ANDREA de GATICA (2010 Awardee)
Ms. de Gatica is originally from Santiago, Chile, and now lives in Alexandria, Virginia. She speaks five languages fluently – English, Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese – and is certified to teach Spanish, French and English, as well as ESOL. Ms. de Gatica holds an undergraduate degree in English and Spanish Literature from the University of Montreal; a Master of Science in Education, specializing in ESOL from the Catholic University of Chile, and a Master of Arts in Foreign Language from George Mason University.
She taught at George Mason High School in Falls Church from 2002 to 2005, where she established a Parents as Educational Partners (PEP) program to provide parents with the information and resources to help their children succeed. Ms. de Gatica also created a student-exchange program between George Mason and a school in Chile, where her sister teaches. The program is still going strong, and several students who have participated n the exchange program have decided to become Spanish teachers as a result of their experience.
In 2005, Ms. de Gatica moved to Thomas Edison H.S., where she quickly became the faculty mentor to the Hispanic Leadership Club, which is a vehicle for improving the public image and self image of Hispanic youth. She explains, “Through the club, students work to portray a positive image of the Hispanic community and serve as role models. They meet monthly with the Thomas Edison principal, Gregory Croghan who brings in community and business leaders to speak about their pathway to success.” Ms. de Gatic also works closely with the Padres Latinos group of Hispanic parents at Thomas Edison to help them motivate their children, “I wanted the parents to get involved in school activities and to feel a connection with the school,” she points out. “When parents, teachers, and students work together, learning is enhanced.”
Principal Croghan, who attended the award ceremony at Marymount said, “Andrea is a great teacher in the classroom and does so much for us. She is able to bring children to the point of being excited about what they can achieve. She challenges them and motivates them to motivate themselves.” Regarding the Hispanic Leadership Club, he added, “it puts kids in leadership positions throughout the school, so it’s very positive for the whole school community!”