Esther Behling is one of VAL’s talented education advisors and teachers at the Windham County VAL in Brattleboro. Originally from New York State, Esther studied education during her undergraduate years at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont. She went on to receive a Teaching Certificate in Secondary English from Bennington College. From there, Esther worked in the public school field for several years where she taught reading and writing to elementary, middle, and high school students. She also worked as a high school academic support teacher, providing advice and guidance to students. When she began her work at VAL, Esther was just looking to teach, but soon realized that she wanted to advise just as she had done in high school.
Esther says she particularly loves working with small groups of students and strives to help individualize educational experiences. She says, “What I love about teaching at VAL is the way we can individualize the learning experiences for students and connect things to student interests.” She also is fond of the small class sizes VAL offers. Additionally, Esther says she likes working with VAL’s students because they are independent learners and their education is, “in their hands.” She enjoys providing these motivated students with the support they need.
Esther says one thing she appreciates is that “the culture at VAL supports us not being workaholics.” In her freetime, Esther values spending time with her husband, her high school age daughter, their dog, and a newly acquired “pandemic cat.” She also enjoys sewing, embroidery, and anything artistic. Esther says she reads constantly, and likes to alternate between fiction and nonfiction. Currently, she is reading The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth by Jonathon Rauch which describes where knowledge comes from.
Esther is happy to have moved into the new Windsor County office, loves her coworkers, and says she is happy to be back in a more social workplace. Right now, she is transitioning over to a role solely as an education advisor. This means she comes to work and researches careers and areas of interest for her students. She will go out of her way to find articles and other resources to help her students discover new jobs, or improve their skills. For example, she has one student interested in special effects makeup and she spends a lot of time searching for interesting articles related to the topic that can help improve her student’s reading skills. She says that she “loves to learn” and often becomes interested in the topics that her students enjoy. Esther also sets up job shadowing opportunities and values connecting students with community members who can serve as mentors and guides. Overall, Esther says, “I really enjoy what I do and I really love learning about something so I can help a student with it.” Thanks for all you do, Esther!
This article was written by Sarah Plaut, VAL Development & Communications Intern.