PHOTO CAPTION: Seniors Olivia Gillman and Sophia Couto frequently come to their former teacher Mrs. Gaudiano to have a casual chat about their college applications and other important matters happening in their lives. (Photo by Sneha Shetty)

By Sneha Shetty

MRS. GAUDIANO, A SPANISH TEACHER AT ANDOVER HIGH, VALUES RELATIONSHIPS LIKE NO OTHER AND ENJOYS SIMPLICITY.

What prompted you to become a teacher?

Well, I wanted to be a teacher since I was six years old. I used to come home from school every day, and I would go down stairs, in the basement, where my father had hung up  blackboard and I would basically reteach everything I learned in school that day. And my three older brothers would yell down the stairs, “Who are you talking to down there?” They would tease me, but it was always clear to me. It was just a matter of what I wanted to teach, and then I fell in love with languages.

When did you start learning a new language?

So in sixth or seventh grade, we had a French teacher come in and it was a Catholic school, so it was a nun. And she was strict, but the moment she started teaching French I couldn’t believe how pretty it was and how fun it was to say something in a different way. I fell right in love with it.

So then how did you switch from French to Spanish?

So, all the students who got an “A” in French in high school were called out one day and we were told there was another nun coming, in sophomore year, and that she taught Russian and asked if would we like to learn Russian. So we all signed up, about 20 of us, and so I started Russian, really loved it–always made sense to me unlike math and science–and then I majored in it in college. Then, after college, I had Russian and French, and I was certified to teach them both, but I went for my first interview at Lexington High School and the woman said to me, “Honey, you have to learn Spanish.” So I went back to Harvard Extension at night and I learnt Spanish.

Why did you want to work at AHS?

Well, my family had moved up here and bought a house in Methuen. I had three little kids under five, so I wanted to do part-time and there was an opening at AHS. I was very lucky because Andover had a great reputation, so I knew that’s where I wanted to work.

What makes you the most proud as a teacher?

I think the most biggest sense of pride is when several students have gone on to be Spanish teachers, with whom I have relationships with now. One of whom is Ms. Hayes, who is at West Middle School, and she and I go for coffee now and then, and it’s really cool how…we changed from a student-teacher relationship to a friendship. The second thing for me would be the notes I get from students. I keep them all in a box, that I’ve had all my life, I never throw it away, and I really love to read them because you feel like you made a difference.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a teacher?

Oh my goodness, I have no idea. This is really who I am, and I worry about retiring because I worry who will I be if I’m not a teacher.

Going off of that, what are your biggest interests besides the field you teach?

Oh, well I love to read. I’m in three book clubs. One is here in Andover with some different teachers. We are reading a great book right now. Then, I’m in one in my neighborhood with Methuen people. And I’m in another one with a small group of women, so I love to read. I like to take walks, especially near the ocean. And, my kids. I love to see and cook for them.

What would you say is the most interesting or unique activity you’ve ever done?

Well, it’s definitely travel. When I was younger, I took groups abroad. We went to the Soviet Union, Madrid, and Paris. And my personal trips included the Galapagos Island, where my daughter was studying, and Italy, where I am taking my family this summer. So definitely travel, it opens up the whole world to me.

And then, going on a separate track, what is your biggest fear?

Something happening to one of my children. Somebody getting hurt, I think it’s just a worry that all mothers carry. But other than that I’m a pretty optimistic person, I don’t really worry too much about things.