Meet MC’s new teacher, Ms. Galvan – The Caravan

Ms. Alexandra Galvan is Mt. Carmel’s newest addition to the faculty. She teaches Spanish but is also an assistant art therapist working in the South Shore and South Chicago neighborhoods. Ms. Galvan hails from St. Bede the Venerable Catholic Parish, where she grew up in a Spanish-speaking family. At the time, she was raised by her grandparents who spoke mostly Spanish, but together with her friends and her mother, she also learned to speak English.
Mrs. Galvan chose to attend Marist High School although her home was closer to Queen of Peace. “My principal from St. Bede called the principal from Marist and was like this girl should be in all honor classes. She’s going to be a great addition.
During her freshman year, Ms. Galvan played basketball and eventually joined a traveling team, but unfortunately dislocated her knee which ended her season. Her sophomore year was when she joined the leadership of encouragement for Mount Carmel throughout her senior year. Nearing the end of her senior year, Ms Galvan thought she wanted to be a doctor and did pre-medical training at college until she realized that was not the field. for her.
“I ended up taking a course in social work,” she recalls, “I thought it wasn’t for me, eventually came back to it later, and then after that, I went to the world language teaching.
Ms. Galvan attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison to study Spanish as well as global language education and educational policy. What piqued Ms. Galvan’s interest in the University of Wisconsin-Madison was the size of the campus, with lots of beautiful buildings and plenty to do. “I had a really good experience in Wisconsin and met a lot of great people,” she says. “It was so cool to share a room with someone who had such a different life experience and was also interested in my life experience.”
As a social worker, Ms. Galvan worked at a homeless shelter and had many clients who did not speak English. Being able to speak Spanish in this environment was great for making people feel heard and gave her the opportunity to know people she wouldn’t know otherwise and help people she couldn’t help otherwise. What matters to Ms. Galvan is that others understand the Spanish-speaking culture and allow people to connect with each other.
“In a country where we have a lot of people here who maybe don’t speak English or are from Spanish speaking countries who could really use that support, it’s so good to be understood.”
While in college, Ms. Galvan spent a semester abroad in Seville, Spain, and lived in Guayaquil, Ecuador for a summer teaching English. She had to adapt because Spanish students were learning British English, which was a little different from what she normally studied. She will end up staying there for six months during her second year. “When I spoke to my adviser, the topic of global language came up,” she says. “Then I discovered that if I wanted to teach a global language, I had to study abroad the following semester.”
Ms. Galvan was originally introduced to this opportunity to teach MC by her longtime friend, Ms. Kerri Fagan, English teacher and Head Cheer head coach. Ms. Galvan has always been involved with Mt. Carmel, whether leading cheers during her high school career or coaching alongside Ms. Fagan. Teaching in a private school for boys is a new experience for her, but working with students of all ages has been a passion. Although she is only teaching for five weeks, she is still happy to be part of the MC community. “I really like finding creative ways to help students learn information and it’s really cool to see the growth,” she says. “As a teacher, it is very rewarding to see how the students are doing and to get insight into areas where we need to focus more.”
Currently, Ms. Galvan is pursuing her master’s degree in social work at the University of Chicago and plans to work as a school social worker upon graduation in 2023. She is a far cry from growing up in a Spanish-speaking household to teach the language.
“In social work, you’re there to serve, you’re there to be a resource, you’re there to do what people expect of you,” Galvan says. “Speaking Spanish is a very great need.”

About Mark A. Tomlin

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