Above and beyond: Teacher Andrea Icenogle works to help ESL students at school and at home


By Anna Skinner

With school starting back up, Andrea Icenogle is excited to return.

The English as a Second Language Westfield Intermediate School teacher works with students coming to the U.S. from different nations. But, in addition to aiding the students in language skills and adapting to the U.S. and the intermediate school, Icenogle aids students in other ways.

“I like getting involved with the whole family. When they first move here or first come to the intermediate, I visit their home and meet their family,” she said. “I take a translator with me a lot of times. I get to know the whole family and see them in their environment where they’re comfortable, and then that helps me assess what needs they have beyond the classroom. That’s when I tell them about the Trinity Free Clinic and food rescue (options). That’s my favorite, is helping them assimilate to all the resources. Westfield is a great place to come because there is so much help available.”

Most of Icenogle’s students are Spanish-speaking, 98 percent from Spanish countries. However, over the years, Icenogle has taught students from Turkey, Vietnam, Japan, China, Russia and others.

Students are ranked in levels one through three, and some know limited to no English while others are reading at a third-grade level.

In addition to visiting the families, Icenogle worked with Northview Church to complete service projects around the community.

“This year, they let me pick three families to help,” she said. “From visiting the homes, I knew who needed the most help. We put in new floors, cabinets and got the kids new beds.”

Icenogle doesn’t just teach children from foreign countries; she has two of her own, from Azerbaijan and Russia.

Dmitry, 13, and Katya, 11, were both adopted by Icenogle and her husband, Gary, at 10 months old. Often times, the two attend her home visits with Icenogle.

“They’ll go with me a lot of times to meet the families,” she said. “When we do trailer makeovers, they go with me and help. Hamilton County is pretty wealthy, and I want my kids to see there is a world beyond that, and that world is in their backyard. There are people in need right here. So, I want them to develop a passion for helping others, for seeing the need. I think a lot of times we miss it.”

Icenogle has been an ESL teacher for 12 years. She received her elementary education degree from Ball State University in 1992 and her master’s degree in instructional systems technology from IUPUI in 1996. Prior to teaching at WIS, Icenogle taught social studies at Perry Township for three years. She was then a social studies teacher at WIS for nine years before moving to ESL.

Andrea Icenogle’s favorite part of ESL teaching

Andrea Icenogle, an English as a Second Language teacher at Westfield Intermediate School, said there are many rewarding aspects to the job.

“It’s just so rewarding to see. I love when (students) can tell a joke in English; that’s one of my favorite things. To watch (their testing levels) rise, some will go up 40 points from fall to spring, where typical growth is 11,” she said.

One of her other favorite things is watching students read a chapter book for the first time.

“It’s just like a new world open to them, and they’re so proud of themselves. I love seeing that spark in their eyes,” she said. “I loved learning about the rest of the world, but meeting people from the rest of the world is so rewarding.”