As students in the podcasting co-curricular activity produced the first episode of their series, In the Loop, a segment, called “Fire Interview,” asked students to name their favorite teacher. “Miss Ibave, Señora Ibave…” an echo is soon apparent.
It takes only moments watching Ana Laura Ibave teach her Spanish I students to understand why she receives such accolades. Her energy and enthusiasm are practically contagious, propelling each moment of the class forward. She acts out verbs and lessons with her whole body. Her energy is even more striking because Ana confesses to feeling tired in the wake of chaperoning a school dance. “I was exhausted, but I made the effort to go. Students say they will come visit [after graduation], but I know there are students I might never see again. I needed to be there.” This is the kind of presence that Ana brings to her every moment at CH-CH: energy, enthusiasm, and pure dedication.
Ana has been a member of the on-campus boarding community, and the World Languages Department since 2019, and her path to CH-CH reads like the fairy tale ending to, well, one of the podcast episodes she helps oversee. Ana first found CH-CH through a substitute teaching gig, but a permanent position wasn’t in the cards at the time. Not until two years later did the magical phone call arrive, finally revealing her dream job had opened up.
After teaching varied age groups, teens have turned out to be Ana’s favorite. Whether with their words or their mentality about the world—new websites, trending phenomena—Ana credits the students with keeping her young. She loves being able to “dig into their minds,” and the kids at CH-CH give her fresh energy. Just as students become well-versed in Ana’s native Spanish—she grew up in Monterrey, Mexico—the teacher also becomes the student: “They dust me off,” she explains, that she’s constantly learning from them, including when she finds herself speaking in teen slang.
Although she has no particular background in podcasting, Ana is an expert in telling stories and in helping others find the voice to tell their own. There is the obvious version of what she does, literally teaching new vocabulary, but also the less obvious. When she was first out of college, Ana worked at a newspaper where interviews were “scripted”, and immediately knew she wanted to pursue a different kind of storytelling. The In the Loop podcast allows her to guide students to do just that, shepherding them until they find the stories they want to tell. Whether narrating their own horror tales, or interviewing members of the community—such as Head of School Lance Conrad over a Hot Sauce challenge—Ana notes, “I let the kids run with it. Their passion fuels my passion.”
After all these years at CH-CH, what still charms her is the way students say thank you as they leave her classroom each day. “Thank you, Señora, Gracias Miss.” It is exactly this gratitude that CH-CH parents, guardians, and other community members will recognize, the thankfulness that students feel in finding their place here, and the gratitude that faculty reflect back as they watch students thrive and find the stories they want to live out.
This fall, Ana added the role of 11th Grade Dean, “I’m absolutely thrilled and filled with joy at the prospect of becoming the Dean of the 11th grade at CH-CH...The responsibility of guiding and shaping the educational journey of these bright young minds is a privilege that I am deeply honored to have. I am eager to contribute my knowledge, experience, and passion for education to empower our students and help them reach their full potential.”
And although the narrative of this future segment has yet to be written, it’s certain that Ana’s devotion and engagement to students at CH-CH will only continue. Perhaps a topic for a future podcast.