Teachers Who Make a Difference: Maestra Guerrieri

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Maestra Guerrieri, More Than a Teacher.

rs. Vandria Guerrieri, known simply as Maestra to her students, the beloved Spanish teacher at St. Luke's University Campus. Always focused on bringing language and culture to life for her students, she embarked on a journey during her #WILDcat summer. Maestra immersed herself in a world of travel and professional development as she traveled by herself through Puerto Rico and Spain.

St. Luke’s awarded Maestra with the Patsy Hamilton Scholarship Fund, which allowed her to cover the cost of transportation, lodging, and the fee for the conference she attended. Maestra took part in the 104th Annual Conference of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP) in San Juan, Puerto Rico. For the conference, the region of Castilla and Leon carefully handpicks fifteen Spanish teachers. These teachers have to be currently working abroad. The conference encourages these well-rounded teachers to experience a whole new world of workshops, conferences, and daily trips in Salamanca.

The medieval city of Salamanca is represented as the capital of linguistic diversity in Spain. Many language institutes and ancient universities established as early as 1218 solidified Salamanca's firm foundation in linguistics.

The conference in Puerto Rico has ignited a new visualization of how Spanish is taught nationwide for Maestra. On middle and upper school levels, she learned creative and immersive ways to teach a language. Interestingly, Maestra saw a different perspective of the importance of the Spanish Honor Societies, which plays a major role as cultural ambassadors. She connected with a lot of ambitious teachers who were excited and eager to share what they have implemented in their classroom.

Majority of the conferences and workshops that she attended were given by teachers and investigators who had been working on research papers. They shared new methodologies and classroom activities, which Maestra plans on incorporating this school year.

She was especially intrigued when a linguistics doctor came to the conference with their own research. The linguist spoke to the teachers about how language has different frequency levels. Science has proven that adults who have had no opportunity to be exposed to foreign languages have a significantly more difficult time comprehending and learning in comparison to a person who has picked up lessons on foreign languages in early years of life. Children, teenagers, and others have the ability to absorb foreign languages easier.

Connecting with other teachers that have different perspectives, but share the same passion for teaching has allowed Maestra to gain a new perspective about the world of learning in both the US and Europe. Maestra states, “Listening to classroom experiences and strategies made me realize how many things could be implemented for the students to have the best possible experience as they learn a new language.”

She is actively planning to take her already solid foundation ahead for language speaking, using her new knowledge to create the most successful Spanish curriculum possible. Her key to this success is prioritizing building two things this school year: community in the classroom and development of digital competences. Teamwork will be prioritized in her classroom to create a safe and collaborative environment for learning. Communication is the biggest factor in absorbing a foreign language and everyone has to be on the same page of wanting to foster fluency. She says “On their way to achieve it, students need to learn how to help and correct each other respectfully and also to make decisions that will help them succeed as a group.”

Creating students who are proficient in organization and communications allows instruction of foreign language to be engaging. She is so excited to implement every level of a total immersive experience for her students. Maestra stated “I’m very thankful for the amazing Wildcat community; students, parents, faculty, and staff have made me feel like I never left home”.

Maestra Vandria Guerrieri definitely had a great summer and we are so thankful she shared her experience with us!