There's a New Cosmopolitan in Town

by Taku LaClair

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You walk by this room everyday on your way to lunch at Jamesville-DeWitt High School. It’s not quite in the Green Hall but it’s not directly across from the Main Office. You might think that it’s an administrative office, being next to the assistant principals’ offices, but W01 is the English as a Second Language room. It’s filled with students from all across the world and Lori Dotterer is the current teacher. She’s filling in for Kristine Wisnieski, who is on parental leave for the year, and is new to the Jamesville-DeWitt School District.


So far this year she loves working with the kids because of their positive attitudes, “hard work ethic,” and how they influence her. “I feel like I learn from them everyday, more than they could possibly learn from me,” she said. Though she only has 18 students, they are from 10 different countries including: Russia, Tanzania, Egypt, Cuba, South Korea, China, Central African Republic, Yemen, and Indian. The hardest part for these students is learning English, she says; “English is not always their second language, sometimes it’s their third of fourth language.” Spanish teacher Simone Pacilio confirms Mrs. Dotterer’s description; “each student needs different individual help,” she said.


Mrs. Dotterer helps her students with reading, listening, speaking, and writing in English, as well as with their academic classwork. “They work hard all day in 82 minute periods and most of those classes are so English dense,” she said. The ESL students help one another in areas they are struggling in. And it doesn’t stop there. A lot of native English speaking J-DHS students have helped their ESL peers. “The J-DHS community is so helpful,” she said.


Not only is she the new ESL teacher, but she’s also the new Cultural Connections Club adviser. Senior Acura Martin is president of CCC. She’s been in the club since freshman year. This is Martin's first year without Mrs. Wisnieski as the adviser, but she said that Mrs. Dotterer is hardworking and a nice person. In the club they explore different cultures through presentations and try to show people in school about different cultures. One of the ways that the club presents different cultures is through a food fair which is in the spring.


This year is her first at J-DHS and her first year teaching, though she has subbed in the Syracuse City Schools. She has been flooded with warmth and support from the whole J-D School District. “I love J-D and I honestly feel like I’m the luckiest person.” She loves her job because she gets to teach her students and interact with different cultures each day. Ms. Pacilio says that Mrs. Dotterer creates a safe and comfortable environment allowing her students to work well. She also said that Mrs. Dotterer’s easy going and humorous personality helps her students “adapt to the J-DHS culture.”


Before becoming a teacher Mrs.Dotterer had a career in healthcare sales for 20 years. She has two master’s degrees in healthcare administration policy. To earn one of those masters, she studied and went to college in Spain, where she became fluent in Spanish.


Mrs. Dotterer is an experienced globetrotter and this makes her aware of the world around her. She’s been to Spain, Western Europe, Guatemala, Israel, and Mexico. Mrs. Dotterer thinks that because the world is so big, students at J-DHS may not realize it and focus on just J-DHS.  “The world is so interesting,” she said, “it’s one of the reasons I chose this job.”