Colleen Stribling finds her stride in ESL

  • Tags: Academics | Faculty Profile
Published 08/16/2021
Colleen Stribling, EdD, professor of English as a Second Language

Colleen Stribling, EdD, professor of English as a Second Language


Colleen Stribling, Ed.D., professor of English as a Second Language, has been a part of the ECC family as a full-time faculty member since 2009. She started as an adjunct professor, sharing an office with her mentor, former ECC Professor Liz McNulty.

“I was so fortunate to share an office with Liz because, in my opinion, she is the model of what a mentor should be. She was generous in her support, and we regularly reflected on our work,” said Stribling. “Although she was a brilliant teacher, it was wonderful to hear that things, for her too, didn’t always go as planned. It was also so beneficial to have her input on my challenges. We continued to share an office until she retired in 2019.”

Stribling did not begin with a career in education, but she never looked back once she found her path teaching ESL. In addition to helping individuals from various cultural backgrounds succeed in their personal, educational and professional lives, she has lived abroad, immersing herself in different cultures for many years.

Read on to learn more about where Stribling’s travels influenced her passion for teaching:

In your words, what do you do at ECC? What do you want others to know about your job? I have to honestly say that I have the best job in the world! Every day I work with adult immigrants from around the globe and help them build their English skills. They come with unique talents and histories. They come with education and valuable work experience. They come determined to make a better life for themselves and their families. As a teacher, I am blessed because they are all motivated to learn as they know the language is instrumental in their future success in the U.S.

What is your greatest accomplishment since you’ve been at ECC? My greatest accomplishment has been working with the talented faculty and staff in ABEC (the Adult Basic Education Center) and across the college to develop and pilot programs to transition our students to career, technical, and academic programs at ECC. I created and piloted a Bridge to Early Childhood Education course with Professor of Education Dr. Dawn Munson, an ICAPS program in HVAC with Associate Professor George Rosa, and a Learning Community course that pairs English 101 with our Advanced ESL Transitions course. I have had the pleasure to partner with three English faculty, Dr. Lori Clark, Professor Alison Douglas, and Professor Joshua Thusat, for that initiative.

If you could instantly be an expert in one thing, what would you choose? That is a difficult question. I think if I were completely unrealistic, I would love to be a star on Broadway. I do not have any musical talent, but I love going to the theater. Pre-pandemic, I had subscriptions to Broadway in Chicago and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. I love being “on stage” in the classroom, but it would be wonderful to be on stage in a great costume, singing and dancing to the applause of a packed crowd.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work (i.e., hobbies/interests)? In addition to enjoying the art and theater in Chicago, I love to read. My neighborhood book club has always been my place to enjoy great literature and to build great friendships.

Where is the best place you’ve traveled? Or where would you like to visit? I love to travel, and I have been fortunate to experience many wonderful places around the world. I think one of my favorite trips was with my family in Greece. At the time, my son was obsessed with Greek mythology. I think it was around the time that Disney released the movie ”Hercules.” My favorite memory from the trip was going to Olympia. The guide was talking about races in the stadium. As we were standing near the starting line, my 3-year-old started to run, and she did not stop. She won the race that day!

You have to wear a t-shirt with just one word on it for an entire year. What would that word be, and why? Positive – I think positive is my word for the year. All around us, there is so much negativity. Through all the changes that we have faced, especially in the classroom, my goal is to think of all the new skills I am building and teaching. This attitude and drive, I believe, will have a positive impact on me as an educator.

Share a fact about you that might surprise people to learn. I have lived overseas on four occasions in Bucaramanga, Colombia; Sevilla, Spain; Bogotá, Colombia; and Stirling, Scotland. My longest overseas experience was in Scotland, where we lived for three years. When we were there, I had children in nursery school, primary, and high school. What a great learning experience about British education!

What job have you held (besides ECC) that was the most fun, interesting, or difficult? Before going back to school to study adult education, I worked in the international departments of several companies. My favorite memory was a project I completed when I lived in Bogotá, Colombia. The company was DISA, a food products company. As we prepared to launch new products, my job was to research the community. When launching an advertising campaign, we would use storyboards to see if our message reached the consumer. If we had a new product, we would conduct taste tests. I think my favorite survey was in the grocery stores testing out a new mayonnaise. “So, what do you think about the color?” I was often surprised by the responses, which reminded me that tastes, particularly in food, are driven by our culture.

What was your most valuable life lesson? My lesson comes from my two distinct education/career decisions. As a young person, I chose a career path based on money, but I was never really passionate about the work. After returning to school and starting a career in education, I now know that you must do what you love. If you do, you will be happy and successful.

Complete this sentence: “I enjoy working at ECC because…” I have wonderful students, colleagues, and the support of the talented administrators in the ABEC Division. I am truly fortunate.