In August, St. Martin’s welcomed Eduardo Gonzalez as a new Upper School Spanish teacher.
Gonzalez grew up in El Paso, Texas, a city on the border of Texas and Mexico. It was there that he learned Spanish and developed an interest in languages.
“I grew up in a border town and I was always exposed to English and Spanish, and I had some neighbors who were from Portugal so I kind of grew up listening to different people and different accents and different places,” Gonzalez said. “And you just want to be involved in the conversation, my mother used to say in the chisme, in the gossip, more than that it was the conversation and being able to communicate in different languages.”
Gonzalez went to college in Montemorelos, Mexico, where he studied theology. Before becoming a teacher, Gonzalez always wanted to become a pastor.
“I grew up in the church,’’ Gonzalez said. “My mother and father were heavily involved in the church so I grew up within those ranks. For me, it was like a dream come true.”
Gonzalez started teaching through the Seventh-day Aventist Church in 1990, and now has over 30 years of teaching experience.
Before moving to New Orleans, Gonzalez taught in southern Mexico. He said that the people there were his favorite part about teaching.
“They were eager to learn, especially among young people,” Gonzalez said. “There was this thirst for knowledge. They hang on to every single word you say, and they try to maximize their experience.”
Gonzalez knows that he has to be flexible and understanding because he works with teenagers and knows that his actions can directly influence their lives.
“Working as a teacher, as an educator is different because you cannot afford to and excuse the word, mess up with a child’s mind,” Gonzalez said. “If you neglect that, there’s no coming back, there’s no do over. It’s something that’s gonna brand that kid forever, so you have to try to do your best and it takes time.”
Gonzalez described the joy in being able to help a student communicate in a new language, which is one of his favorite things about teaching Spanish.
“It’s in the long run, it’s not a short run.” Gonzalez said. “It’s after a period of time to see students who were not able to communicate, now be able to hold a conversation and being able to express their thoughts and feelings and likes and dislikes and it opens a new world for the speaker and it’s very rewarding as a teacher to have that experience.”
Freshman Anisha Mitra weighed in on Gonzalez as a teacher, emphasising how she likes his teaching style so far.
“He tries to get everyone involved and the way he teaches is very interactive,” Mitra said. “He wants us to go to him, and he lets us know that he’s always there for us.”
Cissy Rowley, world language department chair, explained how, being a native speaker made Gonzalez stand out from other candidates.
“Mr. Gonzalez had a very strong resume with a lot of teaching experience, and what was really interesting was that he had immersion teaching experience and that he’s a native speaker from Mexico,” Rowley said. “He’s got a really nice calm demeanor, and it’s been very nice to get to know him.”
When he’s not teaching, Gonzalez enjoys reading, journaling and listening to music.
“I love bossa nova, and of course I like Mexican folklore music, but I love bossa nova,” Gonzalez said.
Although Gonzalez has taught in schools in Mexico and New Orleans alike, he is excited to teach at a school like St. Martin’s that has such a special community.
“From the [Head of School] all the way to the students, they are very receptive and very friendly,” Gonzalez said. “I have found that there’s a sense of pride of being part of this community.”