By Ryan Doyle
Digital Media Specialist
From the Blessed Virgin and Anna Backer to teachers and Mothers Club volunteers, women have played an unsung yet unprecedented role in the SLUH history of forming Men for Others. Many women have toiled tirelessly, and largely anonymously, to make SLUH what it is today, and what it will be for future generations.
In six short years, Modern Language teacher Maria-Paz Erker has made a substantial impact at St. Louis U. High. In addition to teaching Spanish, she serves as the Assistant Director of Global Education and moderates the One World Club.
Erker’s dedication is evident upon speaking to her students. “Señora Erker is incredibly selfless in offering herself for her students,” says Matthew Musial ’24. “I admire her dedication and commitment to helping all of us become proficient in Spanish."
Her influence extends beyond the classroom, however. “Maria-Paz brings so much professional knowledge, passion, and innovation to SLUH. She continues to be a highly- respected leader in Global Education among the entire Jesuit School Network,” says Rob Churra, Director of Global Education and Russian teacher.
Erker’s career in education started in Chile, teaching English as a Second Language. She moved to the U.S. in 2014, teaching at Whitfield School for two years before accepting her current position at SLUH.
“Faith is an important component in my life, and I not only wanted to experience that in my personal life, but in my professional life as well.”
SLUH provided that opportunity, and it didn’t take long for Maria-Paz to start providing her own gifts and talents to the SLUH Community. As moderator of the One World Club, an extracurricular for those who share an interest and appreciation for languages and cultures, she is a constant source of inspiration.
“Señora Erker is the hardest working person in the building. Balancing her roles as an outgoing teacher and a dedicated and creative club moderator is not easy, and for that, I’m inspired by her every day and grateful to work with her,” says Andrew Hunt ‘25.
As Assistant Director for Global Education, Ms. Erker organizes and implements the global education curriculum, educational experiences and events for the entire school. She also accompanies and oversees Jr. Bills traveling abroad. In 2019, she and Michael Mohr, SJ traveled with 18 students on a service and cultural immersion trip to Costa Rica. They spent eight days in Santa Cruz, volunteering at two educational centers for children, as well as engaging in various cultural activities.
“It was an amazing experience to see my Spanish students in a different light outside the classroom,” says Erker. “As an educator, I treasure the moments when you can clearly see your students becoming more open to other ways of communicating, thinking, living and seeing life.”
Another meaningful experience occurred in the summer of 2022, when Maria-Paz took the first group of students to her native country, Chile. “The pandemic had postponed this trip, and I was looking forward to showing my students where I grew up, my roots,” says Erker. “It was a very special trip for me.”
Ultimately, Erker has found purpose and meaning within her many roles at SLUH. “I truly enjoy working with students, both in and out of the classroom, and helping them develop not only their global competence, but their leadership skills as well.”