High School Teacher Finds Speaking Spanish an Asset Near the US-Mexico Border

This high school teacher and chair of the science department shares how being bilingual has equipped her to serve Hispanic students in her school.

What is your job title? How many years of experience do you have in that field?
High School science teacher and chair of Science Department. I have been doing this for seven years.

Would you describe what you do on a typical day?
A typical work day for a teacher includes getting to work early, standing on your feet for many hours, and staying at work late to grade papers, tutor students, prepare lesson plans, or take work home with you.

What is your ethnicity? How has it hurt or helped you?
I am Hispanic with a Mexican-American nationality. Since I work along the US-Mexico border, being Mexican and bilingual has helped me in dealing with both the parents and the students that have come into this country recently.

If you’ve experienced discrimination, in what ways have you responded and what response worked best?
I have never experienced discrimination, thank God.

What languages do you speak? How has speaking another language helped you?
I speak Spanish. I work in a private school along the US-Mexico border. Because of the violence in Mexico, we have seen an increase in the number of students from Mexico. Being able to speak Spanish has been beneficial specifically in dealing with the parents of the students that come from Mexico.

What did you learn the hard way in this job and how did that happen?
Teaching is not the most admired job. When you tell someone that you are a high school teacher, you will not be regarded in the same way as a doctor or lawyer would be. However, teaching is a very rewarding career; as a high school teacher, you get to mold the lives of your students each day. Your fingerprint will forever be on each of your student’s lives.

What don’t they teach in school that would’ve been helpful to you?
Most people have a misconception of what it is like to be a teacher. They think that we teachers have the dream schedule because we get off of work early and have all summer for vacation. Don’t get me wrong, having the summer off is glorious, but you never get off work early during the school year. Teaching is one of those few professions where it is necessary to bring your work home, and, boy, will you! There are lesson plans to prepare, papers to grade, and emails to write to parents (that is if you want some of the challenging students to succeed).

How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?
I have always wanted to teach sometime during my life, so when I was offered a teaching position upon graduating from college, I agreed to it. Seven years later, I would do it all over again!

On a good day, when things are going well, can you give an example of something that really makes you feel good?
I teach science and math, both of which are notorious for being difficult subjects. When I am teaching a particularly complex lesson and I get an “Aha!” moment from my students, the feeling is amazing. At this moment, your world feels complete.

When nothing seems to go right, what kind of snafus do you handle and what do you dislike the most?
It is frustrating when parents do not want to make their children accountable for their actions and place the blame solely on the teacher even though that teacher has given the student multiple chances and has contacted the parents repeatedly. The only way to deal with this is to assure yourself that you have done your best.

What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough considering your responsibilities?
It depends on the state where you work, and teachers are never paid enough for what they do.

What’s the most rewarding moment you’ve experienced in this position? Of all the things you’ve done at work, what are you most proud of?
I am so proud of the fact that I impact lives on a daily basis and mold our future generations. How many people can boast this fact? No matter the challenges, at the end of the day I am proud to be a high school teacher.

What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?
Be ready for the most challenging yet rewarding career!

How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?
Almost every national holiday, two weeks for Christmas, one week for spring break, two days for Easter, and two months for the summer. This time is enough to reflect on what you are doing as a teacher and motivate you to continue inspiring lives.

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