In August, St. Martin’s Episcopal School welcomed Middle and Upper School Spanish Teacher Andy Dykema into the St. Martin’s community.
However, Dykema felt connected to the school before he began his new job.
“I saw (the friendly and small community) as soon as I came onto campus to interview and do the tour,” Dykema said. “I just really noticed how tight and close-knit the community was, and it was just really comfortable. I was excited about it.”
Dykema has taught Spanish for 10 years and previously worked at Jesuit High School, but his Spanish exposure began at a very young age. He attended a high school with a language immersion program and a United World College, a unique university that brings people together from about 75 different countries, according to Dykema.
Dykema is not only proficient in Spanish, but he is also a musician. He was previously a band director and a conductor. As a result, Dykema loves to bring music into the classroom. He will often play guitar and sing with students.
“I’ve learned a lot of Spanish through song,” Dykema said.
In college, he received a double major in music and in Hispanic studies. He holds a master’s degree in clarinet performance.
His musical prowess is only the beginning of his impact on his students. He utilizes the teaching philosophy of “comprehensible input.”
“Basically it says that we should think of language learning like how kids acquire language when they’re young,” Dykema said. “So you say things in simple ways that people can understand, and then they acquire it and can use it.”
He feels a sense of reward when his students make a discovery in the classroom.“I love seeing the light bulb go on,” Dykema said.
Dykema’s effort to make connections in the classroom is appreciated by his students, according to Sophomore Erica Ricci.
“Señor Dykema is a very dedicated teacher who always makes sure the class has a complete understanding of the language,” Ricci said.