Rene D. Caputo ’07 entered the Shenandoah graduate program in education with a decade’s worth of teaching experience and appreciated that she could continue teaching while pursuing her degree. The balance of practical focus with pedagogical theory that the master’s program offered also suited her.
Upon graduating, she joined Duke University as an ESL specialist with the Thompson Writing Program. She supports multilingual undergraduates as well as advises faculty and Writing Studio consultants on best practices in working with that population. She also leads a weekly international conversation group, collaborates with colleagues across campus on issues involving international students, and co-directs the DukeWritesSuite website. The enrichment site is regularly visited not only by learners based in the U.S., but also by those based in Brazil, Italy, India and China.
In tandem with serving as an ESL specialist, Caputo has taught graduate courses in academic writing, college teaching and presentations to Duke international students. She recently celebrated her 11th anniversary as an ESL specialist at Duke University as well as her 10th anniversary of teaching in the graduate school there.
“I find it highly rewarding,” Caputo shared, “when a faculty member grasps why a multilingual student placed an essay’s main idea in the final paragraph or when that student suddenly understands a quirk of U.S. higher education norms or of U.S. English. Assisting others to build bridges across languages, intercultural communication styles, and educational norms is a joy.”
She appreciates the way in which her Shenandoah degree opened the door to expanded career opportunities. And since graduating, she has continued her education by completing a mindfulness training for educators as well as a year-long coaching program. As a complement to her career in academia, Caputo offers private coaching and freelance editing services.
Caputo has presented multiple times at Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages International’s annual conference and will be a panelist at the 2019 annual conference of the Southeastern Writing Center Association. She also likes to volunteer at a local church in her community to support a refugee who is living in sanctuary there.
Her advice to students and new teachers is to listen deeply, develop networks with peers and mentors, schedule downtime for recharging, and promote intercultural understanding.