Mrs. Nataliya Ushakova is an AP Russian teacher at our school that has been spreading her love for Russian culture while allowing her students to master the Russian language. She was kind enough to sit with me and answer questions about her career.
Why did you decide to become a Russian Teacher?
“I think it was interesting for me to talk about Russian culture and Russian life with American students. When I was in Russia during the Soviet Union, as a student, I had never learned anything about the United States so I wanted students here to know about Russia and its culture. This was one of the main reasons I wanted to become a teacher.”
Were you a teacher in Russia? Or did you decide that after you came to America?
“I decided to do it after I came to America. I worked in a museum in Russia, not really wanting to work in a school in Russia since it was very political at the time.”
Why did you come to America from Russia? When did you come?
“I wanted to see more opportunities for myself and for my kids. It wasn’t an easy time in Russia back then. People received very good educations at this time, but there weren’t many jobs available. I came to America in 1994.”
How exactly did you become interested in teaching?
“I wasn’t thinking about teaching in Russia while I worked at the museum. Here, in America, I pursued a Master’s Degree in informational library science and worked at New Dorp Library. I saw so many students from Staten Island Tech and after realizing I was Russian, they would all ask me for help with their Russian homework. So I started learning more about Tech and another librarian was actually a teacher from this school and told me they needed a teacher, asking if I was interested. It was very incidental.”
What’s your favorite part about working at Tech?
“Everything. It’s the best. I love my class; I work in the classroom, talk about Russian culture, show Russian movies, and share my own experience with my students.”