I didn’t always want to be a teacher. I grew up as a first-generation Thai immigrant outside Los Angeles, California in a town called Encino, thinking I would go to Harvard University to become a corporate lawyer. I was 8 and had heard that corporate lawyers made a lot of money, and money was important to me then because my family didn’t have a lot of it. Then I grew up and realized that being a lawyer was not how I wanted to help people.
So I thought of becoming a psychologist: sometimes people needed help in ways other people couldn’t see, and that was interesting. I completed my undergraduate studies at Boston College, earning two degrees in Applied Psychology and Philosophy. I wanted to do some volunteer work, so I applied to the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) teaching program with the University of Notre Dame. They shipped us off to teach at under-resourced Catholic schools in the South. I was placed in Jacksonville and taught 9th Grade English and French I, II, III/IV in St. Augustine, Florida and earned a Masters Degree in South Bend, Indiana.
It was on the lonely 12-hour drives between Jacksonville and South Bend that my love for teaching was realized. I was told I was good at teaching and I enjoyed it. In fact, thinking about it would grow to consume me. This is what I wanted to do this for the rest of my life.
Now I’m back in graduate school to become Dr. Limlamai. I want to teach teachers. I want to help show teachers that everyone can learn and that everyone should learn; students shouldn’t get good teachers just because they live in a certain place or win a schooling lottery. Education is a right that helps to grow and support our democracy. Everyone deserves a good education. In fact, I can put it no better than Marian Wright Edelman: “education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it”.
My husband and I live with our dog Charley and cat Schmutz in a house in a town where he grew up.
I like to read and go for long walks and cook and travel and eat good food and talk philosophy and theory until I run out of wine. I’m pretty crafty and creative too.
I’ve taught in a prison, in Paris, in Boston; in St. Augustine, in Atlanta, in Brooklyn; I’ve taught “high-risk,” no-risk, and kids who won’t take risks. I’m a wanderer. And an explorer. I wonder about the world and what it’s going to be like in ten, twenty, thirty years. When I’m old and sitting on my rocking chair on my porch, on my farm in north Georgia, I think about what we will have created. I hope that what I did in the classroom affects that creation for the better.
What I want from my students is to teach them how to think, rather than what to think. I want them to discover and create. I want them to realize the responsibility that comes with being educated. I want them to see the world with new eyes. I want them to make us all better.
edited Winter 2018
In the drop down menu for this page you’ll find feature units from my teaching: