Learning the way of El Camino de Santiago

Marcia Kozloski
Marica Kozloski, at left, with fellow students at the Universidad de Santiago de Compostela.

Veteran foreign languages teacher Marcia Kozloski spent three weeks in Spain this summer participating in Programa de Formación de Profesores Lengua y Cultura el Camino de Santiago, an international professional development program at the Universidad de Santiago de Compostela.

The opportunity was made possible through Blue Ridge School’s Faculty Summer Research Grant. The School started the grant to fulfill its Strategic Plan goal of recruiting and retaining exceptional faculty.

The Camino de Santiago is a network of pilgrimage routes leading to the burial site of St. James in the Galicia region of Spain. Since the 9th Century, Christians have traveled the 1,500-km pilgrimage trail, which is now recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Ms. Kozloski says the benefits of the program were two-fold: she learned about the history, literature, and culture associated with the centuries-old Camino de Santiago; and she learned many new teaching tools she can incorporate into her classes and share with her colleagues at Blue Ridge School.

“The classes were very good. They use a lot of technology. They use memes to teach everything from history to math.” She says she learned about engaging students by using parody and music: “They use trap music—not rap music, but trap music. I had never heard of it before.”

Additionally, she says she exchanged ideas with her fellow students, who were experienced teachers from around the world—Mexico, Venezuela, South Korea, and the United States.

“I have some project based learning (PBL) programs ready for my classroom and I am working on a program for my colleagues. With my students we can use the Camino de Santiago to learn about history, geography, literature, economics, the ruins, the legends, the symbols. There are so many interesting things.”

Ms. Kozloski is from Brazil, and she teaches both Portuguese and Spanish at Blue Ridge School. This program gave her an opportunity to improve her Spanish fluency through foreign-language immersion. “The classes were all in Spanish. I had to write in Spanish. I didn’t hear a word of English while I was there. It was very good for me.”

Ms. Kozloski is starting her 18th year at Blue Ridge School and is chair of the Foreign Languages Department. She says one of the joys of teaching at Blue Ridge School is facing new challenges every year. “I love a challenge. I change my classes every year. I give new tests every year. And the boys change too. We are there with them every day. We get to figure out how each student learns. I love this school because they let us be flexible. If I want to incorporate more music, I can add more music. As long as we teach, we can be creative.”

While her colleagues are anxious to learn how they too can incorporate new teaching tools into their classroom, the students are likely more interested in hearing about Ms. Kozloski’s new interest in trap music.

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