Mrs. Walton-Mills retires


Nancy Bowne '19

Walton-Mills discusses her experiences at Eastern

As a student, Mrs. Walton-Mills knew she wanted to be a teacher, enjoying the classroom atmosphere and learning process. After twenty-two years of teaching, she has deeply touched multiple students, families, and professionals with the art of language and communication.

  Mrs. Walton-Mills is ready to retire from teaching French and English as a Second Language (ESL). Even though she has mainly worked at Eastern, she has also taught French and ESL programs at Camden County College and Rowan University. “I especially enjoyed working with adolescents and adults.”

One of Walton-Mills’ favorite memories involves her coincidentally teaching an entire family. “There was an electrical engineer who came from China, seeking more opportunity for her daughter here.”

  After the her first year course, the student had greatly improved her English, even getting involved in band and pit.

  “I taught at Eastern in the morning, then I would head to the Camden program, where I had this student’s mother,” she said, commenting on how she truly got to know the family and make them comfortable in the United States.

  “I find it wonderful teaching them to adapt to American culture and education.” She does warn all her ESL students: “Don’t give up your first language. Languages open up so many doors of business, medicine, etc.”

  In fact, communicating across multiple tongues was what initially inspired Mrs. Walton-Mills to reenter the teaching profession. She took a break to run a family contracting company for ten years as president, a rarity for women at the time. Through this leadership, she was able to flex her communication skills and involve more people in the working process. Her company mainly contracted with gas stations, run by Russian speaking people. With real world application, she realized the vitality of communication in all walks of life.

   She said about Eastern, “This might be a very good opportunity to help people.”

  Teaching English, as well as French, has granted Mrs. Walton-Mills a wide mindset of “a global society and economy.” She realizes that many Eastern students do not realize what her job entails within the ESL department. She explains how misconceptions follow that “these students are slow” and cannot grasp information in classes.

  “Well, imagine if you had to take biology . . . in Russian.”

  Learning a language is difficult to begin with, let alone learning different subjects in a foreign language. Despite any challenges these students initially face, they always rise to the occasion, ready to devote their time to expanding their knowledge and tongue.

   “This is a trait that I have noticed weaken in the full student body,” she said. “They are much less willing to feel aim to get the gain.”

  Respect has shifted and negotiating that change and keeping things relevant have been hardships Mrs. Walton-Mills has faced across her career.

  However, she is eternally grateful for the “wide diversity of students at Eastern. I have had rich, varied experience. I am very grateful for my business background and life experiences.”

  When approached by retirement plans, Mrs. Walton-Mills chuckled. “No more ice.”

  She and her husband plan to live part time in Florida, where her children and grandchildren live. She is also looking into volunteer activities and reading. She peered around her room, reminiscent of the lessons and conversations those walls contained.

   “It’s time to leave.”

  Her eyes smiled as she said that it felt truly bittersweet. “I won’t have to hear that alarm clock anymore.”