New Social Studies and Language Teacher Brings Experience and Enthusiasm

Originally from the Huntingdon area, Ms. Grugan has taught internationally in Guatemala and Isreal's West Bank

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New Social Studies and Language Teacher Brings Experience and Enthusiasm

Grugan directing a play with her Palestinian students in 2015.

Grugan directing a play with her Palestinian students in 2015.

Photo courtesy of Ms. Olivia Grugan

Grugan directing a play with her Palestinian students in 2015.

Photo courtesy of Ms. Olivia Grugan

Photo courtesy of Ms. Olivia Grugan

Grugan directing a play with her Palestinian students in 2015.

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Ms. Olivia Grugan may be young and new to Tyrone High School, but she brings many exciting teaching and travel experiences to her students. Along with these experiences, she has many goals for them to achieve throughout the school year.

“My aspirations for my students are for them to be confident, motivated and happy in the classroom,” said Grugan. “I want my Spanish students to feel like they could communicate effectively in a Spanish-speaking community/country. I want my Social Studies students to feel like they can ask good questions about the world around them and articulate their own opinions and beliefs.”

My aspirations for my students are for them to be confident, motivated and happy in the classroom”

— Ms. Olivia Grugan

This year she is teaching Spanish, Psychology and Sociology, Civics and Geography. In the past, she has taught U.S History and English Literature in three very different places: Pittsburgh, Guatemala and Israel.

Last year, she taught in Pittsburgh as she earned her Master’s Degree. This experience was challenging for her, and was a great opportunity to get to know her students. In the one year span she taught in Pittsburgh, she also realized that, despite her age and knowledge to her students, doesn’t always mean she is smarter or more experienced than them.

Before that, Grugan taught for three years at a school in Palestine, in the West Bank of Israel. She taught one year of elementary school English and two years of high school English.

“My students [in the West Bank] were very passionate and very opinionated. They challenged me and pushed me to consider things from a new perspective. I will always be grateful to them for that,” said Grugan.

Her first teaching experience was also in an international setting.  Before college, she taught elementary school English in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala for one year in 2008.

“My students were all Spanish speakers. They were very respectful and engaged. It was clear that they valued the opportunity to have an education. That was a very humbling experience for me,” said Grugan.

During her teenage and childhood years, she lived in Alexandria and Huntingdon. After high school she attended Middlebury College in Vermont because she wanted to explore another state and Middlebury had strong language programs.

Grugan knew she wanted to be a teacher at a young age, and her biggest role model was her mother, who was also a teacher. But in high school she had no idea what she would do career wise. All she knew was that she liked to travel and learn different languages.

Grugan teaching Guatemalan students in 2008.

Grugan teaching Guatemalan students in 2008.

“My father died when I was 15, in 10th grade. It is an event that will always shape who I am. I miss him everyday and wish he were in my life. I also know that experiencing that pain has allowed me to connect with others better and really appreciate the gift of living.” said Grugan.

The thing that drew Grugan to teaching at Tyrone was the closeness to home and family. She knew she wanted to teach in a rural area because it  brings her comfort and it’s where she connects best.

“Every place I have taught has changed my perspective. That’s one thing I love about teaching: you never stop learning. Each school and each student is different, so you have to adapt to meet them.” said Grugan.

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