Welcome Message from Clara Hoellerbauer, Saint Michael's College Spanish Academy Director
The following is a guest post from Clara Hoellerbauer, the Spanish Language Director at Saint Michael's College:
Greetings from the MIL Spanish Academy at St. Michael’s College!
I am Clara Hoellerbauer, the Spanish Language Director, at the Middlebury Interactive Languages Summer Spanish Academy this summer. I am excited to be back for yet another summer, the first of which was in 2010 here at GMC. Since then I have also worked at the Swarthmore site. I was a Spanish teacher for the Spanish Academies and also in my “normal life.” Over the years, I applied many of the great things I learned about language learning through MILSA/MMLA in my own classroom and saw drastic increases in student growth. After teaching Spanish for 7 years, I attended the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where I earned my Masters degree in School Leadership. Since 2013 I am an assistant principal in Colorado Springs, CO. While I love my administrative responsibilities, I am happy to be back at the Summer Academy where I work with some of the best language educators I know.
I am working with an amazing team of educators, both inside the classroom and the residences. My Assistant Language Director, Nicole Penchansky, is new to the academy this year, but it already has been amazing to work with her. Our Lead Teacher, Cipriano Casado, is back for his fourth year at the Summer Academy. He will be teaching in the classroom and supporting the academy in an administrative role. Our Teachers have many years of language teaching experience and come from various states and countries. Our Residential Advisors, who live in the dorms with your children, have traveled extensively and many of them have lived abroad in Spanish-speaking countries for extensive periods of time or are native speakers. We are excited to support your child’s language learning during language classes, cultural exploration classes, afternoon activities, assemblies, field trips, and much more.
We have divided our large academy into three sub-academies: Las Ardillas Amarillas (Yellow Squirrels), Los Azores Azules (Blue Goshawks), and Los Renos Rojos (Red Reindeer). Students will be separated into these sub-academies for certain events and assemblies and unified as one Spanish Academy for others.
I want to thank you for entrusting you with your son and/or daughter’s care for the next few weeks. Over the course of their stay at the Summer Academy, your children will have the opportunity to participate in daily lessons, activities – everything from playing soccer to “watching the clouds” – dances, and chat with their new friends, RAs, and teachers. Some of our Cultural Exploration courses this summer include: “Let’s make Piñatas!,” “Venezuelan Party Food,” “Picasso Art,” “Cartooning as a Spaniard,” “Spanish Cinema,” “Telenovelas,” “Mexican Board Games,” “Alfeñiques,” “Soccer,” “Discovering Honduran culture through food,” and “the Camino a Santiago.” Students will be able to select 4 of these courses. We have invited a presenter from Argentina who will teach our students how to prepare empanadas. Our off-campus excursions will be an afternoon at a local state park, where students will be able to enjoy the nature of Vermont, a flamenco concert at and tour of Middlebury College, and a Field Day with the Language Academies from Green Mountain College here at the St. Michael’s College campus in Burlington.
This morning your children participated in our Student Orientation, which was similar to the parent presentations you may have attended on site on Sunday. We spoke about the daily schedule, the ups and downs (challenges and successes) of language learning, their goals for their stay with us at the Summer Academy. We also discussed how the way they have been taught a language in the past may be significantly different from what they will experience here at the Summer Academy. Please look for a follow-up blog post with further details and tips on supporting your children in maximizing their learning this summer.
This evening, our students learned about the Language Pledge and what it means to enter into an agreement with a group of people. We discussed the commitment to the community that is necessary for our experience here to be a true immersion experience and how we (students and staff) can support each other. Your children also learned different ways to communicate (circumlocution, approximation, word coinage, and the use of gestures and sounds) when they may not be able to express their needs or thoughts in Spanish.
I hope you stay updated with what happens at the Academy through our blog. As you can see, updates are frequent since we love to share what your children are learning at the Summer Academy. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns and do not hesitate to contact me either through my email (email@example.com) or by leaving a message at the SMC Site Office. You may also reach out to Nicole Penchansky, Assistant Language Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to meeting many of you at the end of the Academy!