Corinne Tuney: Finding Herself at Home Abroad
“It was fascinating to teach Spanish children about their own history with an American perspective.”
Corinne Tuney ’11 successfully completed two majors (Spanish and history) and one minor (music) while at Transylvania and then immediately found employment that draws on her skills in all of those disciplines.
As an assistant teacher in a bilingual high school in Madrid, Spain, Tuney teaches social studies, music, and physical education to students in the Spanish equivalent of the seventh, eighth, and ninth grades.
Her ability to move seamlessly from English to Spanish has helped her find success in the classroom and in her new life abroad. “Within the classroom, teachers and students are required to speak English at all times. However, there are students with a low level of English who need assistance in Spanish. Outside the classroom, I have to communicate with non-bilingual students, teachers, and school administrators. The most fundamental part of living abroad is knowing the language.”
When she first accepted the position with the Ministry of Education in Madrid, Tuney thought she would be teaching English, which felt like a natural undertaking. Instead, she finds herself adapting the teaching methods she learned from her Transylvania professors. “I ask the thought provoking questions of history professor Gregg Bocketti while speaking to individual students with the care and interest of Spanish professor Veronica Dean-Thacker.”
She also develops auxiliary classroom materials when she sees the need. While teaching a section on the Spanish Conquest of the Americas, for example, Tuney noted that the students’ textbooks “didn't have anything about the Pre-Columbian civilizations that were conquered, so I created a separate unit on the Maya, Aztecs, and Inca. I also taught how the Spanish were able to conquer these civilizations and how the Americas transformed after the conquest.”
A standout saxophone player at Transylvania, Tuney has helped her students learn about music theory, music genres, and dance. She assigned students a research project on their favorite musicians to help them learn to talk about music in their own words.
Because of the multidisciplinary approach of the academic programs at Transylvania, Tuney was able to intertwine her interests in Spanish language, history, and music. “My senior history thesis on the Spanish Republican exiles in Mexico after the Spanish Civil War and my Spanish thesis on an exiled writer demonstrate how the two departments interconnect.” For her honors recital, she performed "Me llaman la Primorosa" from the opera El Barbero de Sevilla on alto sax. All of these experiences have helped her feel right at home in her adopted country.