Frau inspires others to learn German

“Frau” took over the CVHS German department by storm 19 years ago. 

Barbara Andersen is bilingual and bicultural, making her perfect for the job. She was born in Hamburg, Germany, where she lived until she was nine years old. Then, she moved to Castro Valley, where she has resided ever since.

Andersen is a CVHS alumni as well as a long-time Castro Valley resident. In her high school years, she was part of the track, volleyball, and basketball teams. She studied German in high school, and ended up replacing her old German teacher. She graduated with the class of 97’.

Andersen distinctly remembers the moment when she realized that she wanted to be a teacher.

“My senior year I was sitting in class, and the teacher was a disaster. I remember thinking to myself, ‘I could do this a lot better,’” she recalled.

In college, Andersen surprisingly didn’t major in German. Instead, she majored in European history, later going on to get her teaching credential. During her first years at CVHS, she taught history. 

The person who inspired her to begin as a teacher at CVHS was one of her former teachers, Carmelina Frasca, who is still currently teaching government and psychology at CVHS. Frasca is someone who Andersen always admired as a teacher because of the way she connects with her students.

“She called me and said that I would be a perfect fit, and that I should come work here as an intern for a few sections while I got my credential. She really gave me that confidence boost to start,” said Andersen.

Andersen loves her job and the fact that she gets to keep her students for up to four years. She enjoys watching them grow throughout high school.

“My favorite part about teaching is getting to know my students,” said Andersen.

 Spending time with her students nearly every day for up to four years really allows for her to create lasting bonds and connections with them. She strives to reach the “unreachable” student, and tries to find ways to connect with each and every one of her students. She makes an effort to stay updated with her teaching methods and materials, so that her curriculum always stays fresh and interesting.

Andersen does many things differently than other teachers. She requires her students to start practicing speaking German from year one, unlike many other language classes. She organizes many special events, such as the annual Oktoberfest potluck and Berlin Film Festival field trip.

Perhaps the most well known part of Andersen’s German class is that every other year, they make a trip to Europe. During the trip, students visit Germany and other European countries. Students are able to experience German culture first-hand, immerse themselves in the language, visit a German high school and even meet with German students. For those who have experienced it, the Europe trip is something they will always remember. Everyone bonds and shares many unforgettable memories.

“Going to the beach in Rome was amazing, and the Rottenburg castle was incredible,” remembered Beckman Hart, a senior.

Since Andersen started teaching at CVHS, her class has become very popular, with increasing amounts of students signing up each year. Many of her students decided to take the class after hearing good things about it from a friend or a classmate. Students seem to love her style of teaching and the fun nature of the class. In 2018 Andersen was recognized by CVUSD and received the Teacher of the Year award. Andersen’s teaching skills, German heritage and Castro Valley roots all come together to make her a standout teacher at CVHS.