HomeNewsBeloved Spanish teacher leaves behind legacy of successful students as she retires

Beloved Spanish teacher leaves behind legacy of successful students as she retires

Published May 12, 2022

BY BROOKE MILLER 

As the 2021-22 school year comes to a close, students and teachers are saying goodbye to their fellow peers and most treasured mentors, including Advanced Placement Spanish teacher Olga Chandler, who plans to retire after serving the Carmel High School Spanish wing for over 26 years. 

Chandler is known to be one of the most successful teachers at CHS, as her AP Spanish class has never had below a 95% pass rate on the rigorous four-hour exam.

“She’s demanding with her students, but the students that are willing to stick with her class are the ones who succeed,” says fellow CHS Spanish teacher Tricia Bean. “She’s a very big force in the department because she’s so intelligent with her ideas and teaching.” 

Olga Chandler has had many students come back to her many years later praising her teaching methods. Her demanding and routine-based teaching style has given students the confidence to travel to Spanish-speaking countries and hold a conversation. 

Former student Kea Yengst chose to apply to School Year Abroad in fall 2019, a high school study away program located in Spain, France and Italy. Yengst attributes much of her desire to be in Spain to Chandler’s class. 

“My favorite project was our Cultural Comparison project for AP Spanish, in which we would have to compare cultural components of the United States with other Spanish-speaking countries,” Yengst recalls. “I chose Spain, and it was really helpful not only with my Spanish vernacular, but also in learning more about the culture and its history before I even went to Spain.” 

Chandler’s advanced Spanish courses emphasize the idea of full immersion in the language, as students are only allowed to speak in Spanish once they enter her classroom.

Soon-to-retire Olga Chandler has been teaching for over 39 years. (courtesy of OLGA CHANDLER)

“Many of my family members speak Spanish, and I feel confident speaking Spanish to them,” junior Robert Gomez explains. “No one can teach like her.” 

Chandler’s teaching history spans over 39 years, with her first teaching job at an all-girls Catholic high school in Southern California. She then went on to teach language at the Defensive Language Institute for over a decade. 

“I taught the normal classes and then also created a special class for the Green Berets, the Navy SEALs, and the Top Gun pilots because their needs weren’t being met concerning language,” Chandler explains. 

Over time, the harsh and violent curriculum left her feeling ethically challenged, and she left the institute to then find a job at CHS. Since her arrival, she has taught every level of Spanish at the school.

“There weren’t any books when I first came, so I had to create AP Spanish material from scratch,” Chandler explains. “But now I feel like I could do it in my sleep.”

As her 39 years of teaching come to a close, the teacher expresses excitement to no longer be constricted by the sound of a bell and explore new hobbies. Besides being an avid bookworm and photographer, Chandler hopes to travel, with a trip planned to visit The Garden of Cosmic Speculation in Scotland and later London and Paris with her husband.

“That’s the beauty of retirement, right?” Chandler says. “I’ll finally have time to travel because nine weeks off in the summer was never enough time to figure out the logistics of traveling while also taking the time to recharge your batteries.” 

With her long legacy of successful students and rigorous teaching, both students and teachers are sad to see the beloved Spanish teacher go.

“She’s one of the best teachers I’ve ever had,” senior Nina Robertson says. “I first took Spanish III my freshman year and she gave me the confidence and the skills to jump to AP Spanish my sophomore year, and I thank her for that.” 

Needless to say, Chandler has contributed a lot to the CHS Spanish Department, and staff will miss her presence and expertise in the language. 

“I hope that when she’s sitting on the beach with a little umbrella drink in her hand,” Bean says, “she’ll still respond to our questions about how to explain complex grammar structures to students.”

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