Andrea de Gatica, a Mason alumna and a teacher of English as a Second Language (ESOL) at Thomas A. Edison High School in Alexandria, Va., received the 2010 Victoria D. de Sanchez Northern Virginia Hispanic Teacher of the Year Award at Marymount University’s Education Dinner on May 3.
De Gatica, who earned an MA in foreign languages from Mason in 2008, is originally from Santiago, Chile, and now lives in Alexandria. She speaks five languages fluently—English, Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese—and is certified to teach Spanish, French, and English, as well as ESOL.
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. She also created a student-exchange program between George Mason High and a school in Chile. The program is still going strong, and several students who have participated in the exchange program have decided to become Spanish teachers as a result of their experience.
In 2005, 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 has also inspired other schools in Fairfax County to start their own Hispanic Leadership Clubs.
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; bring in community and business leaders to speak about their pathway to success; organize service projects; and work with parents, providing computer training.”
De Gatica also works closely with the Padres Latinos group for 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.”
Congratulations to de Gatica on the achievement.