Señora Tracy (as many of us knew her in high school) exuded something much greater than that of a Spanish teacher. She radiated something magical, something that couldn’t be measured, defined, nor explained, but simply had what I call “passion-itis.” I believe that she fit this quote written by an Carl Jung perfectly: “One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.”
Many of us had the opportunity to take Spanish class from Señora Tracy. Of course learning a language is not an easy task, but she had the natural ability to infuse fun into the mix as we were learning. Spanish was a class to look forward to rather than dread, despite how much we often butchered the beautiful language. She simply would laugh with us, giving us our literal translation as to what we just attempted to say; teaching us rather than laughing at us as we struggled.
The class became more than just learning Spanish, but about learning about culture. She brought culture to Elwood, a place that severely lacks diversity, and added to it. Allowing us to see different perspectives of the world that some of us may never have a chance to see, she helped diversify our town, one classroom at a time. She did this using food from different cultures as well as various holiday celebrations. We prepared different cuisines from different cultures and tasted them together as a class. We also celebrated various holidays that aren’t part of our everyday celebration, to broaden yet again our horizons.
Music was another huge medium that she used to get us to explore without knowing that we were learning Spanish. Popular Spanish bands were played in class, and many of us would make CDs with this music to listen to in the car. I even asked my brother, Adam, if he remembered listening to Spanish music in the car on the way to school. He replied, “yes, we (Logan included) all listened to ‘Por ti’ a TON in the car as well as other songs by various artists.” I was very impressed that Adam not only remembered, but was impacted as well!
Señora Tracy also included the Spanish club in trips abroad, in my own case, Spain. We had the opportunity to experience the culture first hand. Flamenco dancers, amazing architecture, gazpacho, bull fighting, flan, elaborate rugs, and street salespeople were some of the many things we were able to experience. Although at the time, I didn’t appreciate the beauty of another cultures cuisine quite like I do now, these culinary items will never leave my heart. They were one of the first times that I was able to explore food outside of my own American palette. I would love to go back now and fully appreciate all the amazing cuisine and culture.
Señora Tracy wanted us to fully ‘play the role’ as well by picking out a Spanish name that she would call us the remainder of our Spanish careers. To this day, I believe she remembered us more for our Spanish names than our birth given names. She always called me Francisca, even 10 years after I graduated.
But beyond all of the culture we experienced by means of music, her travels, and food, she wanted us to literally become the part and make videos in Spanish. I will contest that if you ask most students what their favorite part about Spanish was, it was the videos.
We would choose videos, commercials, short movie clips, etc and create these, translating them from the English that was spoken into Spanish. We dressed the part, spoke Spanish to the best of our ability, and had fun playing the assigned part. Laughter was a HUGE part of the process, and I’m sure this was one of her favorite parts of teaching us as well. We later would edit and be able to watch the final products in class, as a class. These videos were priceless and something I personally will never forget.
Señora Tracy taught us all so much that is simply priceless, simply by teaching from her heart. However, the subject she taught me the most about, one can’t truly teach according to a curriculum. She taught me the beauty of finding your passion, and how to truly exude passion by sharing it. Although we all may not have jumped on the bandwagon of fluently speaking Spanish nor teaching it, nor understood her love for it, we learned to love something that she was head over heals in love with, simply by the way she spoke about it. We tried things that we may have never tried, simply because of her enthusiasm towards whatever she suggested. This was passion that was leading us to explore, and that passion was hers that we felt. This quote IS señora Tracy:
“I challenge you to make your life a masterpiece. I challenge you to join the ranks of those people who live what they teach, who walk their talk.”
Señora Tracy became her passion. She dressed it, spoke it, lived it, and accordingly she passed a piece of it on to us. Señora Tracy, beyond being family to me, you have meant the world to me and everyone else that has had the privilege of having you as a student or simply knowing you. From the bottom of my heart, I love and appreciate all the memories, laughs, love, and passion that I have learned and received from you!
Have the best FUEL-filled day ever!
CEO of MangoFuel LLC