After spending nine years living abroad in New Zealand, Spain, Argentina, and Chile, Aaron Bardo returned to the United States three years ago to teach at Culver Academies.
His reason for coming to a small boarding school in Indiana?
“Because everything that Culver is,” Bardo said. “The students are bright, thoughtful and inspiring; the campus is stunningly beautiful; and my colleagues are perpetual learners who inspire me to do the same.”
Since joining the Culver faculty as a Spanish instructor, Bardo said, “My students are the best part of this job. In my class, we like to have fun while we learn. In order to do so in a meaningful way, I am constantly seeking ways to improve the curriculum and the classroom experience.”
And his efforts have not gone unnoticed. He received the 2020 Ralph N. Manuel Award for the teacher who “best exemplifies the ideals of Culver.” The recognition is special because it is voted on by the students.
An example of how his Spanish 3 students feel about him comes from Casey Collins ’22, who wrote in an email: “I am truly grateful for all that you did for not only me, but my fellow classmates. I can tell that you put a lot of time and effort into your lesson plans and I wanted to show some appreciation for that and your dedication to our education.”
High praise coming at a time when much of Bardo’s instruction came during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown period.
Bardo said he wants “to inspire my students to be the protagonists of their own learning. I try to enable them to feel comfortable, have fun and create community in order to learn more about their own culture and those of the world around them.” He worked to maintain those ideals when Culver switched to online learning in March.
“I have found that one of the best ways of getting students invested in online learning is to make sure that all the material is relevant,” he said. “Current events seen through the lens of social media have really gotten my Spanish 3 students to learn much more about the U.S. and Latin America during these unsettling times.”
Bardo and his fellow Spanish instructors created a newspaper titled “La cuarentena” to highlight these issues, and he used social media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok and Twitter to post relevant responses to the stories students read.
When not in the classroom, Bardo spends his time serving as a curriculum team leader, cultural competency and equity committee member, Sin Fronteras faculty mentor, IU Honors faculty mentor, senior service practicum mentor, and a coach for the CGA junior varsity soccer team.
His teaching experience includes five years in Chile. He is in his third year of four, working on his masters from Middlebury College and earned his bachelors from Elon University.