Mark

Paralee Whitmire | The Interview

27 Apr ’11
DSC_4650 as Smart Object-1

Paralee Whitmire is SpanishDict.com – and she’s our friend. She’s also an Alumni Intern, having been a member of Season One of our Internship. Honestly? Paralee was an Intern with us before we even started the internship. More importantly – she’s impossibly awesome, and ridiculously amazing. – Interview & Photos by M. Tioxon

******************

I felt really guilty leaving the public school education system. I felt like I was a pretty good teacher and I was abandoning the kids. I felt really bad about it.

I’m internet famous. But not INTERNET FAMOUS! I get messages from students everyday about how I’m helping them pass their tests. The ones that I get to know are the adults – the ones that always wanted to learn a language and tried every program out there, but mine is the one that worked for them. When you get Internet famous, people don’t expect you to respond to them. It’s weird. It’s very strange for me as person who works from home, has a small group of friends and a simple life where no one recognizes me – compared to the online circles where thousands and thousands of people know my name. It’s amazing.

All of the resources on SpanishDict are free. You don’t pay for any of the content. We believe education should be free for everybody.

I would like to be able to do a backflip on a snowboard off a jump and land it. I’d think it’d be awesome if I could be a full time soapmaker. I’d like to go back to the computer being a fun thing. Anything on the computer is work for me. I’d like to make soap.

I taught at Carver high school in Atlanta. It lived up to its reputation as far as being low rent –ghetto. But the kids were in uniforms and we had laptops, and smart boards – we had endless resources – but ONLY if you threatened the administration that you were leaving. That’s the only way you could get those resources. I didn’t have anything first semester. No textbooks, no room. They didn’t even buy me a cart to push my papers around until I threatened to quit and started documenting what they were saying to me – and then all of a sudden I got $10,000 worth of materials AND a classroom.

I found this job on Craigslist. I joined three years ago to write references, how-to articles – and it was a dream. I was like, “OMG, I’m 23 and I get to write textbooks?”

I filmed 90 videos of myself. When we first started we were renting a room in an office building in Buckhead. It was just ‘a room’. We borrowed all of the film equipment we used. Some fancy Sony camera, two spotlights, and a green screen. A really low-rent setup. And HOT.

One weekend we were behind schedule on filming. So I figured I’d film over the weekend. It was July. I thought it would be fine. They turned the A/C off in the whole building. I toughed it out and kept filming. I was pouring sweat. It was disgusting. I couldn’t use any of what we shot.

It IS big. On average, 5 million unique visitors a month.

Being the only employee for SpanishDict – I’ve had the opportunity to learn everything. Marketing. Video production. Sound Production. Public relations. I have done more content production for learning Spanish and English than I ever thought I would do. I’ve reached so many people. I’ve learned to ask for what I want. I think a lot of people just get into their jobs and assume that their bosses have the whole thing mapped out for what you deserve, when you’re gonna get a raise, why you’ll get a raise. And going from hourly for very little money to now where I’m on salary with health and vacation – I had to ask for those. I had to put together a proposal for the things that I wanted.

I was the captain of the soccer team. I was on the Varsity team my freshman year in high school. I got to UGA and realized that I was a tiny fish in a huge ocean. All of a sudden I wasn’t even good enough to play on intra-mural teams. We had to make our own Jerseys. Stephens County Lady Indians.

Park Tavern. Dollar beers whenever it rains.

I get to make up my own job title depending on who I’m emailing. Director of Interactive Education. Director of Marketing. Director of Public Relations. Always Director of Something. I’m the Chief Operations Officer. I do everything. It’s really cool.

There’s a tiny town in Peru called Huanchaco – a tiny no nothing town on the beach. I could live there. Second would be Florence. I wasn’t expecting that one. I went to Italy after studying Latin for five years. I got to Rome and was totally depressed. Too modern. Too much graffiti, too much fashion – too much tourism. It really hurt my feelings. The people weren’t cool enough to me. They were really stuck up. We got outside of Rome and people were TOTALLY different.

Florence? We LOVED Florence.

An Orthodontist. I think for the money. Because my parents are both teachers in a small town – they made NO MONEY and had 6 kids. I didn’t notice it that much until I was in high school and everyone wanted a pair of these expensive, REALLY UGLY shoes that were ‘cool’. My mom said no.

I was like “This is REALLY important to my popularity!” I really thought the Georgia Boots would raise my status. In college I just got smacked in the head with reality and realized that my parents had it right – living with what you have and a job that makes you happy – and having time for your kids.

Our dictionary? Hands down, we have more dictionary entries for Spanish/English than any other online dictionary out there. Not only that – we have a huge user generated phrase book. Phrases like ‘cat-got-your-tongue’ – things that only make sense in English.

I have Googled myself.

I studied for a summer in Spain. We went to Morocco and got mugged at Machete-point. The brother of the Chief of police asked me to marry him. He did get us out of jail though.

I didn’t realize how much work was involved in Search Engine Optimization. It’s really boring. Keywords. Link building. You’re a spammer. That’s what you are. I was a professional spammer for about a year.

Five Siblings. Elizabeth. Maegdlyn. Porter. Tyler. Paralee. Neelie. I love having a huge family.

It’s all telemarketing, and used car sales – at least when you’re looking on Craigslist for a job that has to do with Spanish.

I do so much work FOR Spanish language learning. But MY Spanish has gotten so much worse since I stopped filming myself in the videos. All I do is edit. And work on other things. I never get to practice. We’re moving to Frisco, Colorado. It’s 20 minutes to Five different ski resorts.

We’ll be there for two months and then three months in Chile.

I have like 12 pairs of pajama pants.

It feels good to get messages from students in far off, tiny countries, telling me that they’re learning Spanish because of something I made.

 

Interview & Photos by M. Tioxon

 

Paralee. Whitmire. SpanishDict.com Photos. Interview. LeahAndMark.com

[ad-engine ad_group=”CARE”]

You Might Also Like

4 Comments

  • Reply Mitch Whitmire 25 May ’11 at 2:37 pm

    Would Paralee Whitmire contact me? I am a Whitmire geneaogist and I have some intersting information about her name sake.
    Mitch Whitmire

  • Reply Jay Valentine 24 Oct ’11 at 1:07 am

    This is the best site to learn Spanish. I have a weekly course but I listen to Paralee every night. You are just the very best and you have no idea the impact your site has. It is also beautifully built and structured. Great Job!

  • Reply Jordan L. Dohanyos 10 Nov ’11 at 4:09 am

    Ms. Whitmire, I just have to say that I love you (as a student) and that you are probably one if not the best teacher in the WORLD! I loge your videos, your easy to listen too, and you utilize all three types of learning (sight, sound, visual). One question, what is that awsome song you use for all your vid.s? (I love you!)

  • Reply Joshua Renae Melvin 30 Jul ’12 at 8:36 pm

    It IS the best site. I am currently spamming for you! It took me 2 years to find this resource, and now that I have I want everyone to know. As a public school teacher myself, I love learning from something that is organized & makes sense, but is also fun. This year, I will be recommending SpanishDict to any colleague or student who wants to learn English or Spanish (I'm in Texas-that's a lot of folks). I am also posting links on my class website, Twitter& Facebook. Way to go! Let me know if you are doing any more projects and need a helping hand! I love this mission of free education. It's truly what drives our world.

  • Leave a Reply