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Educator Spotlight: Spanish Educator Nancy Beale

Introduction: We are excited to continue our popular Educator Spotlight series this year. Through this series we hope to offer readers a glimpse of how Gibbons Educators care for and engage with students, forming them as men and women of faith, service, and leadership in church and community. Today, we spotlight Nancy Beale, World Languages Department Chair and Spanish Educator. We started this year’s series with Fine Arts Educator Rebecca Dason.

Nancy Beale working with a male student during Spanish Honors 2 class.

As soon as students entered Room 212 on a recent Thursday morning or appeared on the screen in front of the class via Zoom they were greeted with Bienvenidos, Hola, Buenos días, or Cómo estás, and were immediately immersed in a Spanish-language experience.

Nancy Beale  teaching hybrid Spanish Honors 2 class

Welcome to Spanish II Honors with Nancy Beale, a Gibbons Educator for 18 years and the chair of the World Languages Department for the last five. During this 8 a.m. class on a rain-drenched day, Beale creatively balances in-person and remote instruction in a dynamic class that is rigorous but fun and ensures students are gaining proficiency in their second language.

A daunting task no doubt. But Beale meets the challenge by offering her students interpretive and interactive tasks that are as informative as they are engaging to help teach them double object pronouns – the lesson on this day.

One task is for students to interpret a Thanksgiving comic strip using vocabulary words they previously learned. Next, they are practicing their Spanish-speaking skills by translating the short story, “El Osito,” or understanding the rules of grammar by deciphering a labyrinth. Each time, students work collaboratively - often with in-person students paired with classmates online.

Nancy Beale praying with her Spanish Honors 2 class.

Even when the heavy rain caused the Internet to hiccup, Beale didn’t miss a beat, keeping the 75-minute class moving at a lively pace. Throughout the lesson, it is obvious she is passionate about her subject, which she continuously shares with her students. No more than five minutes pass without Beale proclaiming ¡Bravo or excellent! when a student correctly answers a question.

For those who need a little assistance, she offers visual or verbal cues, guiding them to the right response, which she acknowledges with a supportive thumb’s up.  She also encourages every single student to participate, enriching their confidence and skill.

Nancy Beale listening to students during Spanish Honors 2 class.

And she evaluates their comprehension by conducting assessments and soliciting feedback, always striving to meet her department’s mission: “to empower students with the mastery of a second language as an instrument of empathy, communication, and learning for life…”  

What was the students’ response to this day’s lesson? A resounding thumb’s up - aka ¡gran clase, profesora Beale.

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