Get to Know iForward - Heather Beaudry, Spanish Teacher
Hello students and parents! Welcome to our next installment of Get to Know iForward, where we introduce you to the teachers and staff of our online school.
In this post, you’ll be introduced to Heather Beaudry, who teaches Spanish at every level at iForward - elementary, middle, and high school. Teaching students of every age a second language in an online environment takes a teacher who is highly skilled and adaptable, and thankfully Heather is just the woman for the job! As you will learn below, teaching has truly been in Heather's blood from an early age, and we are lucky to have her.
Tell us about your background.
I grew up in both South Texas and the Chicago area and went to college as a Spanish and Psychology major at UW- Madison. I completed a study abroad program in Madrid, Spain, where I lived and attended the University of Madrid. After college, I was commissioned as an officer in the Navy, serving aboard Guided Missile Destroyers. I earned my Spanish teaching license through the CESA-1 Proficiency Based Licensure program while teaching at Wauwatosa schools.
What experiences first got you interested in education?
Since I was young, I always enjoyed tutoring, coaching, and teaching others. From summer jobs as a camp counselor where I developed my own art, dance and music curriculum for the campers, to volunteer tutoring and after school program work in college, I have always been involved in educating others. Even in the Navy, my last duty was Training Officer, where I ensured the sailors on the ship received the training they needed. After the Navy, I knew that education was the best and only career for me.
What intrigued you about the opportunity to work at an online school like iForward?
I loved the mission of iForward to connect with and educate students from a variety of backgrounds, locations and situations. To be able to connect with students from all over the state from my own home office is a beautiful thing. Compared to other online schools that I have observed, iForward puts in the extra effort to provide a live class schedule, just like traditional schools, with teachers who get to know their students and offer social interaction and a feeling of belonging that can be tough to provide in an online setting.
Describe your day-to-day as a middle school teacher at iForward.
I generally play some Hispanic music or fun educational videos in the 5-10 minutes before class for the students who show up early. I teach High School Spanish 2 and 3 in the morning, then Middle School and High School Spanish 1 in the afternoon, followed by Elementary Spanish
What have you enjoyed the most about being at iForward?
That is a tough question because I love so much about this school and my role as a teacher here. I really love getting to know my students and sharing special and funny moments with them in class- and most of all, cheering them on for each learning victory
What has been the most rewarding part of your job?
When a student comes to class and tells me with pride and excitement that they were able to speak Spanish with a neighbor or understand a conversation in Spanish at work- that is the most rewarding to me. A foreign language can open doors and provide connections for a lifetime. I want this advantage for all of my students.
And the most challenging?
The most challenging for me is trying to maximize spoken conversation in Spanish between students in class. When you are not in a face to face environment, it can be more intimidating to use your microphone and webcam to speak a foreign language. I keep encouraging my students, however, and am looking into new techniques to further increase speaking in class
Talk a bit about how iForward has been able to help middle school students and families during the last year with all its challenges.
iForward has worked incredibly hard to support students and families during this challenging year. We have hired additional counselors and advisers to provide individual support and encouragement. Teachers have given extra grace and compassion to their students, who have experienced so much stress, anxiety and uncertainty. While traditional schools all over the country had to transition to virtual without warning or any plan in place, iForward rode the storm of the pandemic smoothly and confidently, continuing to provide live, interactive classes taught by dedicated and caring teachers in a consistent format. We provided our students and family a safe and supportive learning environment, easing the educational burden on parents, and allowing students chances to make friends and join clubs for some much needed social interaction.
My goals for the 2021-22 school year are to continue to grow the brand new Elementary Spanish curriculum, which began this year. I also look forward to providing more cultural experiences for my Spanish students, like virtual field trips
I always love when my students show their pets on the webcams, allowing us to say “hola” to their pet (and an opportunity to practice those animal names in Spanish!). I have enjoyed my students singing our Spanish songs on the microphone in class, and making hilarious drawings while playing pictionary. I firmly believe that students learn better when they are having fun, so I try to make my classes as fun as possible!
Please check back soon for our next entry in this series, where you will get to know another iForward teacher. In the meantime, feel free to check out iForward's staff page.
iForward is an online elementary, middle, and high school serving students in grades K-12 across the state of Wisconsin.