Photo by Jackson Moran ’21 | Mr. Andrew Schmidbauer ’88 teaches spelling-changing verbs to his Honors Spanish 2 class.
By Jackson Moran ’21
Mr. Agliano’s question from the last teacher’s pet,”What is your favorite part about teaching at a Jesuit School?”
There’s a lot of things that I like. I think its because the best part is that you don’t just have to focus on having kids become intellectually competent, but you’re also, as a teacher, made to focus on the academics, having them [students] become more loving, develop their own spirituality and religion, and deeply involved with that, to help push them to be more open to growth, and cultivate hearts that are committed to doing justice. So it’s the ability to educate the overall person.
How has Jesuit education left its mark on you throughout your educational career?
I went to Brophy, so four years, and then I went to a Jesuit university. I don’t really know any other types of education, so I would say it has shaped everything about me.
What initially drew you to the Spanish language?
Spanish was just interesting to me, and I had taken four years of Latin at Brophy. When I went to college, I started taking Spanish and it was much easier, and because I don’t look like I speak Spanish or have a name that sounds like I speak Spanish, no-one ever assumed that I would try to speak Spanish. The second I tried to speak Spanish, people were very welcoming to me.
Was it your initial choice to go into teaching, particularly Spanish? Why did you decide to make a profession out of it?
I didn’t think I wanted to teach, or maybe I knew I wanted to teach but I didn’t really listen to my heart telling me that until after college and I spent time in Costa Rica teaching English. I first applied at Brophy, and my goal was to actually get a job at an American school in Spain, but teaching history as that was my other major.
What advice do you have for students trying to learn a language?
[You] can’t be afraid to make mistakes and if you really want to learn it, you have to do it every single day.
How has Brophy changed since you were a student here? Would you say that the overall climate here has improved?
A lot. The amount of Jesuits we have in particular. I think I was here in what I would like to consider the Golden Age of Jesuits on campus. There were tons of Misters and Fathers and Jesuits everywhere. That’s obviously changed. We are now down to one Jesuit priest and two that have not yet been ordained. The physical plan has also changed, the school has become a better school, academics are more challenging and there’s more choices. For instance, we had one art class. Literally, an art class that you could take in four years at Brophy. A lot has changed, all for the better, except for the Jesuit part. That makes me sad.
How have you used your prior experiences as a student here while teaching?
At this point I don’t really remember learning when I was in high school, it’s been so far away and the technology piece is so much different now. The one thing I do remember from when I was at Brophy is the people who taught me, more than the content that they were teaching. Always in the back of my mind there’s a sense that they probably won’t remember how to conjugate a verb in the preterite, but they might remember something about me.
What immersion trips do you go on and which one is your favorite? Why?
Over my time here I have been to Oaxaca, I’ve done the Puebla Immersion trip 20 times, I’ve taken groups to the Guatemala trip in January, so for the last 12 years or so I have taken one trip during the year and one over the summer. I wouldn’t say I have a favorite of the two, I think they are both very different and both very important, but if I had to choose one I would say the Puebla trip because I have relationships with some of the people we work with that are already 20-years-old.
How have you brought the experiences and knowledge gained on these trips back to Brophy?
I try to tell stories that I know down there that I’ve met to my classes in the hopes of helping them to open their eyes a little bit, because not everybody can go on an immersion trip, and I understand that. Experience, to me, is the most powerful teaching tool, so I can talk abut my experiences on the trip and hopefully that’ll encourage and inspire some kids to go and do immersion trips of their own. If not, it might at the very least plant a little seed that we need to get out of our comfort zone in order to learn.
Do you have any advice for students who want to get the most out of a Latin American immersion trip?
You have to go with an open mind, I think we all have preconceived notions of what a place is going to be like, so to get the most you really have to throw yourself into the experience. You also have to know that there will be some things that are uncomfortable, but you have to trust in the process and know that this is all for a reason. Let the spirit work through you.
Finally, what question would you like the next teacher to answer?
Describe your first job that you actually received a paycheck for.