La Facultad

Director: Javier Buenadicha

I am originally from Spain and I have been teaching my mother tongue for almost a decade. This is by far, my biggest passion and the thing I like the most. I fell in love with languages in my teenage years and that was the reason I decided to study them in college, where I had the opportunity of enjoying immersive-learning experiences in different countries. With this year's Academy, my goal is to lead students to have that similar life-changing experience. I hold a BA in History and Mass Communication and two master’s degrees: one in Applied Linguistics and another in Education. Before teaching Spanish in the US, I was doing the same job in my own country, as well as in the Czech Republic and Poland. This is my second year at the Spanish Academy: last summer I taught Music and Dances of the Hispanic World and I am very excited to be the Director in this 2019! If I am not teaching, you will probably find me outdoors hiking, climbing, caving or kayaking, although you can also see me reading good literature occasionally. I love travelling and cooking, and I am always trying to learn something new.
Lead Teacher: Vicente Colón

My name is Vicente L. Colón and I am a native Spanish speaker born and raised in Puerto Rico. I attended the University of Puerto Rico where I obtained my undergraduate and graduate degrees. I have experience teaching business law and Spanish. I live with my lovely family in Southside Virginia. I enjoy reading, art and nature.
Aída Abarca

I am Aída Abarca. I was born in El Salvador, but have lived in Northern Virginia since 2001. I hold a BA and MA in Foreign Languages from George Mason University, with a concentration in Literature. During the academic school year, I teach Spanish as a Second Language and Heritage Language in a Fairfax County Public School. Some of my interests include traveling, hiking, reading, and dining out. This summer, we will explore short stories, myths, legends, and parts of novels that are popular in the Spanish speaking world.

Gustavo Tisera

James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA-Universidad de Salamanca (Spain)
Dual Master’s Degree(M.Ed.) in Spanish Language and Culture for Educators and Teachers of Spanish as a Foreign Language (JMU), the United States and University of Salamanca (USAL), Spain. (graduate 12/18/2016). In December of 2016, I was part of the inaugural cohort to complete the Dual-Enrollment Program with James Madison University in Virginia and La Universidad de Salamanca (USAL) in Spain for which I received a Master in Education degree from JMU and a Master’s Degree in Spanish Language and Culture for Educators from La Universidad de Salamanca, which is recognized throughout the European educational community. My academic interests range from advanced Spanish grammar and syntax to theoretical linguistics to Second Language Acquisition. My most recent studies in Salamanca have ignited an interest in the "variedades de la lengua española" ranging from a sociological aspect to a lexical aspect.
Brandon Norris

¡Saludos! My name is Brandon Norris. I’m an enthusiastic Spanish teacher at Short Pump Middle School in Richmond, Virginia. I attended the Spanish academy as a student in 2011, and I’m excited to be returning for my fourth year working at the academy. This year I will be teaching a class on Hispanic dances as well as spearheading the dance project for the academy. I am fascinated by all languages and enjoy spending my time sipping coffee while chatting with friends or reading in a foreign language.
Scott Youngdahl

My name is Scott Youngdahl. I have been teaching Spanish since 1997 and learning it most of my life. I met my wife teaching English in Japan on the JET Program, and we later lived in Puebla, Mexico, teaching English as well. I have taught at the middle school through university-level Spanish classes, and I have also taught Japanese at Elon College. I have a B.A. in Spanish from the University of Texas at Austin, and I received my Masters and Ph.D. (Spanish) at UNC-Chapel Hill. My passions are music and languages. My wife Jan is also a teacher, and we have two children, 16 and 19 years old.

Los Asistentes Supervisores

Lead RA: Meghan Depue

Hi! I’m Meghan, the Lead RA for the Spanish Academy this year. This past May, I graduated from the University of Virginia with a Bachelor’s in Spanish and a Master’s in Elementary Education, and I hope to be teaching middle school Spanish next school year. In my free time, you can find me tutoring, singing, working as a substitute teacher in Charlottesville, or drinking coffee. After being a student at the Spanish Academy in 2014 and working as an RA 2016-2018, I am so excited to be returning!
Griffin Schutte

My name is Griffin Schutte. I am entering my third and final year at Virginia Commonwealth University where I am double majoring in Spanish and European Studies. I first attended the Academy as a student in 2016 and then last summer I got the chance to return as part of the RA staff. I am extremely excited to be back and I hope to help make this year’s Academy another unforgettable experience for the students who come to Washington and Lee.
Ryan Keane

¡Hola! My name is Ryan Keane and I’m a rising 3rd year student in the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia. I’m dual majoring in Leadership and Public Policy and Economics and minoring in Business Spanish. I was a student at the Spanish Academy in 2016 and I’m super excited to come back! Outside of school, I love to play sports and listen to music with friends. You can catch me Wakeboarding during the summer and I’m always up for a pick-up game of soccer or basketball. I can’t wait to meet you all!
Sara Hobbs

¡Hola a todos! I’m Sara Hobbs, and I am a Spanish teacher at Indian River High in Chesapeake, Va. I studied Spanish and Secondary Education at Towson University for my Bachelor’s and am now studying Applied Linguistics through the University of Massachusetts – Boston for my Master’s. During my time at Towson, I had the awesome opportunity to spend a semester living and studying in Buenos Aires, Argentina! I moved to Virginia two years ago and learned about the Academy from my department chair. When I am not teaching, I love to read, hike, and dance! This will be my first year as an RA and I am super excited!
Arianna Barkhoridari

My name is Arianna Barkhordari, and I am a rising fourth year student at the University of Virginia studying Spanish, Foreign Affairs, and French. I attended the Academy in 2015, but this will be my first year as an RA! I have been studying Spanish for almost 15 years now, and I hope to maintain my Spanish skills in law school and use them to help a more diverse population. In my free time I am usually singing with my a cappella group or exploring Charlottesville. I am looking forward to returning to the beautiful Washington and Lee campus and experiencing the academy from a new perspective!
Kara Newman

I'm Kara Newman and I am a recent graduate of William & Mary. I studied Public Policy and Latin American Studies as an undergraduate and International Development Policy as a Master of Public Policy. Most recently, I served as a Fulbright Scholar in Tunja, Boyacá, Colombia where I worked as an English Teaching Assistant at the Universidad Santo Tomás. As an alumna of the 2012 Academia Española, I am incredibly excited to be returning as part of the team this summer.