Wright Award Winner Teaches “In Light of Eternity”
“Live every day in light of eternity.” These mission-minded words from the elementary principal of Santiago Christian School, where Angela “Angie” Epplett ’20 works, focus the Gordon grad’s eyes on her powerful opportunity as a teacher. With a Kingdom-oriented perspective, Epplett helps students in the Dominican Republic build relationships with God and find success in academics, social environments and future careers.
Demonstrating a heart and vision to transform the lives of her students, Epplett has been named the 2022 recipient of Gordon College’s Margaret C. Wright Memorial Award. The Wright Award, established in remembrance of Margaret Wright ’17, honors a Gordon graduate who is making a difference in an underserved community through education. As the third annual recipient, Epplett will receive funding to support her personal educational pursuits and to support her school.
“To receive this award is very exciting because of the impact that it’s going to be able to have for the school and for my continued education,” she says. “I’m very thankful to have received it.”
When Epplett learned in her elementary education classes that many Massachusetts youth speak Spanish as a first language, the Uxbridge, MA, native declared a Spanish minor. Then, a visit from Santiago Christian School faculty showed her another opportunity, further from home, to wed her interest in Spanish with her passion for teaching and desire to minister through education. So, after graduating from Gordon, she pursued a job there in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic.
“At a Christian school, it’s an opportunity for students to learn all of the academic content that they would learn at another school, but to view it through a different lens,” says Epplett. “In every subject that we’re teaching, the students are seeing it as part of God’s creation and plan.
During Epplett’s first year abroad, she taught second grade via Zoom due to the pandemic. Now she is a Learning Support Program teacher, working one-on-one and in the classroom with second grade, third grade and eighth grade students who have specific learning needs.
“I really enjoy working with children and helping them reach their full potential,” says Epplett, remembering a young boy who refused to read aloud at the beginning of the school year. With her guidance in building language skills and confidence, he began whispering as he read and eventually blossomed into an avid reader. She reflects, “Through teaching, I can share my love for learning with my students and help them to love learning and become lifelong learners. And then they get to reach their goals.”
To help both students and teachers at Santiago Christian School reach even more goals, Epplett and the school plan to use the award winnings to fund learning resources like Lexia, a program that has already helped build students’ reading skills. Wright Award funding will provide more students with access to the program, as well as train teachers in the curriculum. Epplett also hopes to expand the school library to include more literature at lower reading levels and that represents Dominican Republic culture. With her personal winnings, Epplett will cover the cost of earning a Master of Education from Gordon’s School of Education, focusing on elementary education and moderate disabilities.
On top of these important priorities, Epplett says her primary goal is to point students to God. “I want them to know that their lives are not defined by their disabilities but by their relationship with Christ and that they are his image-bearers.”