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Language Teacher's Passion for Travel Inspires Students

by Megan Amicone

Beth Ilecki, a Spanish and Italian teacher as well as the Department Chair at our school, shares her love for traveling with her students and talks about how it is a great experience for them. 

Something that sparked her interest in traveling and the Spanish language as well as inspired her career was teaching abroad in Spain after her schooling at the University of Buffalo. When entering college, Ms. Ilecki originally wanted to major in nursing and minor in Spanish but later discovered she had no idea what career she wanted to pursue. With being unsure of her career path, she decided to sign up for a teaching abroad program which she solely joined for the travel aspect, having no interest in teaching at the time. Through the program, she found that she really enjoyed teaching others. 

Ms. Ilecki lived in Spain for a year, where she learned how to be independent. Since then, Ms. Ilecki has traveled to Canada, Costa Rica, Portugal, Spain, England, Ireland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Italy, Switzerland and visited most of these countries many times. During her travels, she has learned that “everybody is different, but people can still get along.” She has learned this through being around many different people and different cultures. 

Continuing her love for travel, Ms. Ilecki, with the help of former teacher Ms. Colby, started a program at our school that gives students the opportunity to travel abroad over the summer with the school and the travel group EF Tours. “It is fun for her and her students that go…they get the chance to meet other cultures and to understand other cultures,” co-worker and Spanish teacher Veronica Pitre said when discussing the school's travel program. 

“I feel like we tell students that they have to make up their mind and go to college and know what they want to do and stick with it,” Ms. Ilecki said,  disagreeing with the need to make a permanent career decision as someone who didn’t know what she wanted to pursue but found her career through her love of travel. An important piece of advice she gives to the Senior class when talking about narrowing down on a major is “you can change your mind.” She gets this advice from her own experience and finds it important for others to know as well.

As someone who prefers to keep things fun and interesting, Ms. Ilecki enjoys decorating her classroom to create a better environment for her students, as well as keeping learning interesting by playing games and activities. “She creates a fun and engaging environment,” Italian student Paige Lapadat said. Though Ms. Ilecki expressed that the way she would normally teach has sadly been affected by Covid.

Aside from travel and teaching, Ms. Ilecki enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, reading, and visiting Knox Park. One of her favorite authors is Jodi Picoult: she has read all of her books and is eager for the next release!

Ms. Ilecki is a Mercy graduate herself and this is now her seventh year teaching! Being greatly inspired by those who move to different countries, if she was not working at Mercy, her dream would be to be paid to travel except without the blogging and social media aspect. 

She will continue to travel and set an example for her students by doing the things she loves every day. Ms. Ilecki is currently planning the next student abroad trip going to Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, and London this upcoming summer!

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