The American School in SwitzerlandThe American School in Switzerland
Faculty Feature: Ms. Ania Barciak

Nicole Abrate Echezarreta ’20 interviewed High School German Teacher Ms. Ania Barciak and crafted this thoughtful profile.

By Nicole Abrate Echezarreta ’20

Collections of moments and feelings are what clutter our lives and become what we live for. Education, passions, and goals are the driving forces that raise our expectation to lilac skies and make our minds drive miles and miles by feet. Ms. Ania Barciak — IB German teacher, Mongolia Service Learning co-leader, and Lanterna dorm parent—arrived at TASIS in 2017 with a passion for education that she displays in her teaching, which is clearly visible to her students as well. Alessandra Appiani ’20 describes her as “an outgoing teacher who is comprehensive and understanding with her students.” 

As Ms. Barciak stirs her vegetable soup with a spoon, she recalls her past in the United States, where she spent 20 years of her life. She began her college education at Tennessee Technological University, where she majored in Spanish and minored in Business, French, and German. She later continued to satisfy her passions by working at Harvard Medical School, where she was a translator and an organizer for a project in South America. After deciding that the office job life did not amuse her, she decided to move to Vermont, where she began what she enjoys most: teaching languages. 

A multi-tasking professional, Ms. Barciak managed to earn three teaching certifications and a master’s degree in education while teaching Spanish, French, and German. She is now developing other passions that contribute to her motivated personality and image that people perceive. These include reading historical fiction about places she would like to travel to, going scuba diving any chance she gets, and a new commitment to running: she began training last year and has now run several 10-kilometer races. Proud of this latter accomplishment, she shares it with a timid smile. 

Ms. Barciak displays such characteristics in her teaching philosophy as well, which she simply describes as follows: “Make teaching fun. I teach the way I wish I were taught.”

Ms. Barciak on the 2019 Global Service Program trip to Mongolia 

Ms. Barciak’s lessons are interesting, informative, and well-structured. Asked to identify a weakness in her teaching style, she concedes that she could be more strict in the classroom. Her students, however, appreciate her kindness, availability, and patience—viewing these attributes as the signature features of her teaching methods, which are very much effective. 

Ms. Barciak admits that not all of the duties that come with being a teacher—such as filling out paperwork and grading papers—are as enjoyable as connecting with students in the classroom. When asked about these kinds of responsibilities, she acknowledged that they are inevitable and are things that all teachers have to manage, noting that “the good outweighs the bad by far.” After all, one cannot have pleasure without pain. One has to go through life with the mindset that while pain may shade one’s moments, love and passion are the sustaining forces that allow one to simply sigh during the difficult moments and think, “I’ve made it.”

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