There is no specific path that brought Iowa Gamma Megan Fandel to where she is today. She has always loved the opportunity to create her own way and beat to her own drum. It’s why the theme of her life comes from a Spanish poem by Antonio Machado: “Caminante no hay camino. El camino se hace al andar,” translated by Meg as “traveler/walker, there is no path. The path is made upon traveling.”
With a degree in Spanish from Iowa State University, Megan began teaching high school in Omaha, Nebraska. She then moved to Arizona to continue teaching. It was there that she was offered an opportunity to go abroad to teach in South Korea. She gladly accepted. And she loved her experience so much that she lived in South Korea for three years.
With a continued interest in being somewhere international, Megan wondered why not earn a master’s degree in Spanish through a university in Spain? Meg explains she “just went for it” and decided to attend Universidade de Santiago de Compostela (USC). Upon graduation from USC, Megan stayed in Spain to teach English.
Later, when provided with the opportunity to come closer to home, Megan took it. She began teaching Spanish in kindergarten through twelfth grade in the Van Meter Community Schools in Van Meter, Iowa. Megan is so proud of the program she gets to teach every day. In this school, all students take Spanish every single day. Their style of teaching is not to just pass out verb lists and conjugations worksheets, but to have actual conversations. The school chose this learning style to mimic the natural language acquisition we have as humans. The children practice enough that they acquire the language at a rate of approximately five new words per week!
It is unique program, especially for a small town. The school’s administration and curriculum director are intent in this learning style, so when they pushed for the creation of the program, the community understood the need and supported wholeheartedly it. Now, the district has made sacrifices to make sure they have a program like this in every school. And all teachers are willing to wear a lot of hats to ensure the success of the students. Megan is one of three Spanish teachers that work with more than 800 students each day!
“When you love your job you put up with the crazy,” says Megan. “Yes, it is a lot of work. But it’s amazing.”