Teacher Spotlight: Ana Echeverria – Washington Township, New Jersey

Ana Echeverria is an upper-level Spanish teacher at Immaculate Heart Academy in Washington Township, New Jersey and a veteran ACIS Group Leader. She’s been traveling with ACIS for over 15 years and has seen the transformative effect educational travel has on students time and again. Over the years she’s also become highly adept at organizing, planning and promoting her trips.

We asked Ana to share some insights from her years of experience traveling with ACIS:

How long have you been traveling with ACIS?

I started traveling with ACIS as an assistant group leader under the guidance of Elisa Randazzo, our then group leader, in the 90’s.

What inspired you to lead your first trip?

Our Group Leader, Elisa Randazzo retired in 1999 and passed the baton to me. Of course, I was honored and excited to be the group leader.

Why did you choose ACIS?

Our former Group Leader, Elisa Randazzo always used ACIS. As the assistant group leader, I soon learned that ACIS was and is the best in the business. When I became group leader I knew that leaving ACIS was not an option. I have never regretted my decision.

How have you observed travel impact your students over the years?

Over and over again, our alumnae either email or message me via social media. They are thrilled to advise me that as a result of the ACIS/IHA trip(s) they are studying abroad. Whether it is to Europe or somewhere in the Americas they will always cite the IHA/ACIS as the impetus for their travel abroad.

Has it been a challenge to recruit enough students for your trips? What have been your most successful techniques in recruiting?

It is indeed a challenge recruiting enough students for our trips. Generally, I start promoting the trip the year before in February. I find that emailing each class (example, Class of 2017) separately works well. But what works best is word of mouth by student peers, having the trips announced by our language department teachers in their respective classes and posting enlarged pictures of previous trips in the halls close to my classroom.

What advice would you give to a prospective teacher thinking about becoming an ACIS Group Leader?

Be proactive, patient, flexible, assertive, instruct yourself prior to trips, and choose your teacher chaperones carefully. Be open with parents especially during the parent/student meeting a month or two prior to departure. Never assume anything especially that passports are in order. Establish a rapport with your tour manager making sure he/she knows that you are in charge. (This has never been a problem as ACIS tour managers are the best!)

What other thoughts would you like to offer to the global ACIS community?

Planning these trips takes time and work year round. For many group leaders and for me it is a gift and a blessing to be able to travel to so many places and most especially to broaden the horizon of my students. Did I mention the Global Conferences?

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