Teacher Feature: Andrea Horcher

Sep 8, 2023 | Academic, School News

For the past two school years and throughout the summer, Andrea Horcher has been completing courses in Curriculum and Instruction in ESL at Concordia University to obtain her Master’s Degree. ESL (English as a Second Language) is something that Andrea considers extremely important for educators to be well-versed in and equipped with strategies to work with students, especially at Cristo Rey St. Martin. Over 30% of the CRSM student population speaks English as their second language, with Spanish being predominantly spoken as their first language. Andrea observed the challenges of teaching STEM classes to students who had to internally translate all instructions. She decided to acquire the necessary skills to better assist these students.

Andrea Horcher began her studies in August 2022 and hopes to complete them by Summer 2024. She chose to focus on ESL Strategies because she realized there were few strategies in place for STEM instructors at CRSM when attempting to help ESL students grasp complex concepts and equations. She recalls an instance from a few years ago when “an incoming student asked for math help,” and she “didn’t know how to assist the student due to the language barrier and the fact that he was ESL.” This is one example of the kind of challenges STEM instructors at CRSM have encountered during their teaching tenure and served as a catalyst for Andrea’s decision to further pursue these teaching strategies.

Through this program, Andrea aims to share her learnings with her fellow STEM colleagues on how to develop better strategies for teaching ESL students complex curriculum pieces. While the ESL classes Andrea has been taking aren’t STEM-specific, she has been able to extract methods on how to work with ESL students in her classes. “Math is a different type of language,” Andrea says, emphasizing the importance of helping students understand this language.

At Cristo Rey St. Martin, the commitment to serving students is unwavering. Being fully bilingual in the language spoken by the ESL student population isn’t required, yet Andrea chose to embark on the journey to better serve her students. Andrea has already begun weaving ESL strategies into her math classes, witnessing tangible success among her ESL students as they navigate their educational path. It’s a testament to the dedication of educators like Andrea who strive to provide the best support they can to our diverse student body.