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access to the most relevant and high demand languages in our global community

World Languages

“With 75% of the world’s population being non-English speakers, the goal of our world languages department is to help our students be engaged, productive citizens of a global community.” - Vanessa Giuliani, Department Chair 

Walking through the academic buildings at Christ School is a little like stepping into another part of the world. Beginning through advanced levels of Spanish, Arabic, and Mandarin Chinese can be heard in several areas of the campus. Students are offered courses of study through AP in Spanish and Level 4 in both Mandarin and Arabic. Students are also afforded the opportunity to elect more than one language of study as an elective course. Christ School is dedicated to providing our students with access to the most relevant and high demand languages in our global community.


Our department’s incorporation of Mandarin Chinese, the most widely spoken native language in the world, assists our students in connecting with the world’s most populous nation, as well as influential Chinese communities in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

“Arabic and Mandarin have been two of the most challenging classes that I have taken at Christ School. Mrs. Chung has taught us very quickly to carry on a basic conversation in Mandarin. I don’t know what career I want to pursue in the future, but I am sure that these two languages will help me.” –Duncan Jones ’16


A number of developing nations are located in Northern Africa, many of which are Arabic-speaking. Our students are not only taught how to speak, read, and write Arabic, but they also learn the social nuances, customs, and traditions of those nations.

As a result of taking Jennifer MacDonald’s Arabic class, two students have studied abroad at Kings Academy in Jordan, two have attended the Middlebury Summer program with an earned scholarship, and another attended the State Department funded Morocco Summer Immersion on a full scholarship.

Seven Reasons Why Now is the Time to Learn Arabic

Student Testimonials


Students have the opportunity each summer to develop their global language skills beyond the classroom through a Spanish immersion program at a language institute in Salamanca. Salamanca is home to Spain's oldest and most prestigious university, the University of Salamanca.

In this three-week study abroad experience, the students stay with Spanish families, attend four hours of class daily, and participate in tours, excursions, and workshops. There are afternoon activities and weekend excursions to Madrid, the beach in Portugal, and a bull farm owned by a famous matador.

Students make friends from around the world while also being fully immersed in the Spanish language. This program is also designed to teach diplomacy in international relations.

News from the World Languages Department

Meet the Faculty

Christ School students from 2010 to 2018 will be delighted to hear that Marshall Baltazar has rejoined the World Languages Department to teach Spanish.  

During his Christ School tenure, Mr. Baltazar drew from more than 30 years of teaching experience in public and private schools in North Carolina and the Chicago area.  In addition to sharing his love of Spanish language and culture with his classes, Mr. Baltazar launched and coordinated a distinctive, three-week study abroad program for Christ School students at Colegio Delibes in Salamanca, Spain. When Mr. Baltazar retired (temporarily) in 2018, the Angelus yearbook was dedicated to him. 

Sawyer Duhaime ‘18 read this tribute to Mr. Baltazar during an end-of-year assembly:    

"This beloved faculty member has lived in three different countries and worked as a hotel manager, a tightrope and trapeze artist, a clown, and an acrobat. He earned a master’s degree in Urban Teaching and won a dance contest on the 1970s TV show, ‘Soul Train.’ Since 2010, he has been an integral member of this community, teaching Spanish, directing plays, and leading trips to Spain. This kind, wise sage claims that his heart is a potato, though everyone who knows him would say it is a heart of gold. So, in an effort to keep this dedication short and sweet, just like our dear señor, the senior class dedicate the 2018 Angelus to Señor Baltazar." 

Jameel Brenneman is a jack-of-all-trades and has gotten a chance to show that versatility in his time at Christ School. Mr. Brenneman joined the faculty in 2018 as an English and Arabic instructor. He has also coached soccer, tennis, and assisted with the Christ School Broadcast Network (CSBN).

Mr. Brenneman graduated in 2012 from Indiana’s Huntington University with a degree in broadcasting before getting a master's in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan four years later. His interest in the Middle East stems from the fact that his mother’s side of the family is from Palestine.

Mr. Brenneman’s introduction to boarding school came with two years at The Stony Brook School in Long Island. He also wore many hats there, including teacher, coach, and dorm parent.

Mr. Brenneman was excited to move to North Carolina, in large part because he is a big fan of barbecue, so much so that he and his brother took a 10-day culinary road trip across North Carolina and South Carolina during the summer of 2018. His other interests include sports, music, and crossword puzzles. His wife's name is Amy. 

Patrick Dansdill earned the “Most Respected” award from his Wheaton College (Ill.) football coaches and teammates in 2013 and they were onto something.  

Mr. Dansdill has distinguished himself the past nine years with a willingness to explore many different courses in K-12 education.  

Mr. Dansdill graduated from Wheaton with a B.A. in Elementary Education.  

He will teach Spanish at Christ School and be an assistant football coach, but has previously worked with students in art, business, English, math, music, physical education, science, and social studies. Mr. Dansdill most recently taught at Hall Fletcher Elementary School in Asheville.  

Steven Kramer is so accomplished in World Languages that he was formerly a court interpreter in Spain. 

Mr. Kramer spent two years aboard as a teaching assistant and was a teaching fellow at the University of North Carolina for the 2018-19 school year. He graduated with a B.S. in Spanish and International Business, with a minor in German, from College of Charleston in 2014. Mr. Kramer went on to earn a master's degree in Linguistics from UNC in 2019.

Mr. Kramer is fluent in Spanish, which he teaches at Christ School, as well as German. He considers himself at the conversational level in Italian and is a beginner in Russian, Dutch, and Galician. 

World Languages teacher Les Thornbury is a true renaissance man.

Along with regaling the boys with stories from his years as as a Navy F/A 18C pilot, Mr Thornbury became a professional standup paddle boarder in 2018.

Mr. Thornbury graduated from VMI. Following his Navy career, he taught Spanish in Connecticut public schools for eight years, including a year as a Fulbright Exchange teacher in Mexico. In addition to his Spanish classes, Mr. Thornbury is a coach with Christ School's Outdoor Program and the ski/snowboard team.

Watch the faculty profile on Les Thornbury