Mrs. Cummings, the cultural cuisine teacher, talks about the experiences that helped her be the teacher she is today. 

Yaiza Hernanadez

Culture and Cuisine teacher Mrs. Cummings is a new teacher who came to Tuscarora High School in 2021-2022. She talks about her experiences as a teacher and what led her up to this point. 

When asked to tell a bit about herself, she stated, “I’m originally from Canada. I studied there and taught elementary school for 12 years. However, during my first year of teaching, I went to the International School of Sino Canada in Shenzhen, China.” told by one of her mentors in high school about this opportunity. Seeing as she has a big interest in traveling decided to give it a chance, “[though] anxious to start teaching, it seemed [like] the perfect fit.”

She remembers arriving on the first day and couldn’t believe seeing the building in person. She also mentioned how heavy the traffic was, “even the bay from where we crossed from Hong Kong onto the mainland was so busy.” China was living up to its name of being one of the busiest countries in the world.

She was in China for a one-year contract which started from August until July, “I taught kindergarten that year, those kids would now be in their 20s,” she laughed at the fond memory. When asked about the living and changes in the culture compared to Canada, she said, “The culture was tough to navigate; for the first time, I was the minority there, and I was beginning to understand how big the world is. But honestly, what I took from that year, is that we are all the same in so many ways,” this experience brought her so many new learning lessons and experiences, such as learning a whole new language, “The language was so so hard! There is no way I could ever read it. Still, I did learn how to say a few essentials, such as the address to the school and then, of course, how to get to Starbucks and other restaurants. I still remember counting to 10 and a few sentences like how to order a bottle of water.”

She also faced quite a few culture shocks and differences, “The biggest differences I found were public bathrooms and sanitation. I had a hard time with that. I also literally felt like I was in a concrete jungle. I wanted rocks for a small math assignment one day and couldn’t find them anywhere! Growing up in China had me completely at a loss. I also found that after being gone for a year, I had this weird reverse culture shock when I got home. I felt like I saw things differently, and trying to adapt an adjustment.”

What she took from helping her prepare for this experience was that she learned that she was much more capable of more than what she gave herself credit for. She felt like she had gained the confidence to take risks. She was also very grateful to have been able to travel and be a part of something much bigger than she could have imagined.

Closing from this chapter of her life, I ask her what brought her to come to Frederick County, “I moved to this area for my husband’s job. After being here for a few years, I returned to teaching. This is my first time at the high school level, and I love it. I am so happy to have found my new home.” In the time she has been in Tuscarora High school, she has made her impact, even creating a new cooking club at the school with the help of another teacher called Mr. Feinberg, with who both have become great friends, “We talked a bit about it last year. We decided to do this because we both love to travel (and eat), and we wanted to get a group willing to try different foods from around the world and get to know each other’s cultures.” 

All these experiences helped shape her as a teacher and the person she is today. In the end, what did she gain from all of it, “I think I’ve become more patient with my students and myself after working in different schools. I also know that I will continue to make decisions and changes to keep myself on a path where I can serve the kids in a way that feels like a place of happiness.”

She believes in her students and wants them to succeed. Mrs. Cummings has started a new chapter in Tuscarora and has gone out to help in change. She hopes to continue making a positive impact and make sure students fall in love with cooking and the cultures that come with them. Believing this school year is going to look bright.