Today, we’d like to introduce you to Nancy Beck, a Spanish teacher from Pennsylvania who has traveled extensively with ACIS, and was even awarded 2014 Teacher of The Year at her school. Besides having a passion for Spanish and teaching, Nancy enjoys traveling, cooking, gardening, music, art and exercising.
Hi Nancy, thank you for taking the time to chat with us! We’d love to know a little more about you. What made you want to become a teacher?
I come from a family of many teachers (mom, aunt, uncle, cousins, nephew, niece, son, daughters-in-law) and have always loved teaching and learning. I also had a great high school Spanish teacher who taught me not only vocabulary and grammar, but also many interesting details about Spanish culture. Her stories about Spain were so intriguing that I decided to accompany her and other classmates on a trip to Spain during my senior year of high school. After that trip, I knew what I wanted to do with my life and decided to go to college to major in Spanish. I fell in love with Spain and knew that I would return some day.
We love that your own student travel experience helped spark your desire to teach and travel! In your experience, what has been the best part of bringing a group of students on a tour?
Without question watching students assimilate into the culture has been the best part; not only by practicing the language but by “dressing the part”, tasting the local cuisine, and getting to know the people. These connections are enjoyable, rewarding, and life changing.
What do you hope your students will gain from traveling abroad?
I want to open my students’ eyes to the world that exists beyond their own hometown and to see how others live. I want them to overcome any fears of traveling and to learn how to make the most of the experience. Then, if they have the opportunity to travel in college, for their profession, or in their leisure time, they will take full advantage of the opportunity to gain knowledge of the wonderful things the world has to offer.
Has a tour ever altered the life of one of your students in some way? Or maybe it changed your life?
As a high school student many years ago, a school trip to Spain changed my life tremendously. It confirmed my choice of career and influenced my participation in the planning of trips for the students that I teach. Many of my students have gone on to college and have participated in study abroad programs through their universities. Almost all of them say they would not have done this had they not first traveled with our high school and ACIS. During our ACIS tour of Spain in 2014, I had the unique experience of meeting up with a former student who traveled with me to Spain in 2005 and was now living and working in Madrid. It was great for the current students to meet her, hear her story, and see firsthand how the same trip changed her life nearly 10 years ago.
Wow! What a fantastic, full-circle moment with your previous student. What would you say to encourage another teacher to travel abroad with students?
In the past, I have invited other teachers to accompany me on ACIS tours to experience the quality and value of the programs for themselves. Every teacher who has ever traveled with me has returned as either a chaperone or as a group leader. The program sells itself!
What has been your own favorite travel experience?
My favorite travel experience was when I traveled through Spain with my own family. I had planned numerous tours for my students over the years, but never had the time or opportunity to take my entire family. Finally, everything came together in 2011 and my husband and I planned a 10-day family vacation in Spain. Since we had traveled with ACIS many times, we were able to plan our own itinerary and share our love of Spain with our children. It was a special experience for all of us and a dream come true for me!
Is there one piece of advice you would give to a first-time student traveler?
I would tell anyone, adult or student, to take advantage of every opportunity when you are traveling abroad. Keep an open mind and open heart and you will be surprised by all the great experiences and relationships you will encounter and never forget.
Excellent advice! And finally, what would you say has been the most rewarding aspect of teaching thus far in your career?
The most rewarding aspect of my teaching career has been giving students the opportunity to travel abroad to experience all they have learned about in class or read about in books. There is no replacement for “living the language.”
Thank you, Nancy!
If you’re interested in learning more about the lives of ACIS Group Leaders from around the country, visit our YouTube channel for videos and short clips.