¡Bienvenidos, Emma Baehr!


Sidney Hines

Spanish teacher Emma Baehr is excited for her first year at Niles West.

By Sam Galanopoulos, Multimedia Director

From Guatemala to the United States, Spanish teacher Emma Baehr is taking the Spanish world by storm. From sitting in her freshman Spanish class to experiencing all parts of the world, her love for the language and culture never diminishes. Becoming a teacher has opened up her world to opportunities that she never thought possible.

When Baehr began her high school career, taking Spanish class was a must.

“I knew I wanted to be a Spanish teacher since my first Spanish class when I was in high school. I liked teaching and liked the idea of teaching others and I wasn’t really into any other subject or that good at any other subject. So when I found Spanish, it was fun and a different style of class,” Baehr said.

After graduating from Illinois State University, her life completely changed when she jumped on a plane and flew to the other side of the world to follow her passion for Spanish.

“I started by studying abroad in Spain and I loved traveling. Since I studied abroad, I volunteered in Mexico and after I graduated I wanted to teach abroad,” Baehr said. “In Guatemala, I found an awesome school so I did a Skype interview and about a month after graduation. I flew down there and taught the rest of their school year.”

After returning back to North America, Baehr wasted no time jumping into becoming a full-time teacher.

Being her first year at Niles West, Baehr has interacted with many faculty members and parts of the student body. Spanish teacher Tapan Patel had a lot to say about Baehr’s energy and the impact she has made already.

“It’s always sad to see colleagues [Linda Capuzelo] go after retirement, but it’s even better to add new people to the apartment. Emma is coming to Niles West with teaching and travel experience and has a lot to contribute to the school as well as the department,” Patel said. “She’s been sharing ideas with other teachers already, and has hit the ground running with her classes.”

Along with fellow teachers, students have already felt a comfort when entering Baehr’s class every day. One student, junior Sarita Akwa-Philibin, boasted about how exciting it is to go to Spanish class every day.

“My favorite part about having Ms. Baehr as a teacher is that she lets us do all types of fun activities and work with other students. Having her as my teacher is very fun and she is so nice. I like the way she promotes speaking Spanish in class and ultimately makes learning a new language very interesting,” Akwa-Philibin said.

Whether Baehr is walking her dog along the lake or doing yoga, Spanish is always in the back of her mind. By adapting and assimilating to the culture of the language, it has become a major part of her everyday life.

“Teaching has made me a lot more aware of different cultures and different beliefs. I basically study cultures for a living as a Spanish teacher but that’s just one aspect of the world. One language. So teaching helps me learn about other people and make it an inclusive environment for everyone.”