Bethany McAndrew, Upper School French
"In grad school, I started to think about the most grassroots way to effect change in the world—and not just to react to conflicts, but to prevent them from arising. I recognized that it is through education. That was when I realized that I really am a teacher at heart."
Why did you want to become a teacher?
I actually never thought I was going to become a teacher. Then, when I was in grad school, I was sitting in a conflict resolution class and I started to think about the most grassroots way to effect change in the world—and not just to react to conflicts, but to prevent them from arising. I recognized that it is through education. That was when I realized that I really am a teacher at heart. I’ve always liked working with kids, and all of my significant jobs have been in teaching. It was a very affirming realization.
Why do you think it is important to study foreign languages?
The biggest piece is communication—it lets you talk to that many more people in the world, whether it is for travel, family, a job, or something else. The flip side is that studying a foreign language also grows your brain in a particular way. For example, verb conjugations are rather analytical and concrete. There is a certain formula for how you construct a sentence or how you put together a particular expression—almost like a math skill, with the same problem-solving elements. At the same time, you are trying to communicate your ideas in a fluid way, and to choose the right words to convey emotions. When you learn a language, it is a nice synthesis of many skills that you can also use in other areas.
What do you see as the most valuable aspect of a Bryn Mawr education?
I think that students leave here feeling a sense of empowerment. I think that is important for any student, but particularly for young women. For some it comes early and for others it comes later, but throughout the school there is definitely a sense that we respect our students, and that they have a voice. We want them to know that they have good ideas, and we want to hear what they have to say. I think that is incredibly valuable.