World Languages faculty to take on more Spanish courses

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Veteran Townsend Harris Spanish teachers will be put in charge over the Spanish 3 & 4 classes that were being taught by Mr. Jorge Ariza, who was teaching in Caroline Lopera’s absence. Changes are planned to go into effect on Monday, March 11, for the start of the new marking period.

Mr. Ariza’s second band Spanish class has been assigned to Ms. Diana Villaverde, his third band class to Ms. Beatriz Ezquerra, and his fifth and eighth band classes to Mr. Christian Castillo. In addition, to assure that Mr. Castillo is not overwhelmed with teaching four different levels of Spanish, all of Mr. Castillo’s Spanish 1 & 2 classes have been assigned to Mr. Amanna.

Though Mr. Ariza had been teaching these classes, he is currently at THHS to fill in for openings in English classes, which is where his license is.

Assistant Principal of World Languages Georgia Brandeis clarified the situation on why Mr. Ariza was initially teaching these courses, rather than a newly hired Spanish teacher, “We [the administration] had a really difficult time hiring a Spanish teacher, and Mr. Ariza happened to be a Spanish speaking teacher, so we had him take over the classes.” She further explained that the reason the hiring process was difficult was due to the fact that Ms. Lopera is expected to return next school year, which would mean that a teacher would have to leave their previous job to teach for only a year at Townsend Harris. Having Mr. Ariza cover the classes was meant to be temporary until a licensed Spanish teacher could be found, but with the job search proving difficult this late in the year, the administration decided to ask current Spanish teachers to take on these classes.

Mr. Ariza reflected on the experience with his students. “I learned with the students,” he said. “What I loved about the students was that they let me make mistakes, and we made mistakes together, and it was a nice experience. I had a wonderful time.”

With the increase in workload, Mrs. Villaverde was “a little hesitant” at first. The new class added to her schedule would make her have many classes in a row some days, and on Tuesdays, she will have four. She stated, “I am going to be a little bit busier. I am going to have three [classes] in a row someday, one day I am going to have four in a row.” Despite the busier schedule, she “reorganized many factors and now I think I am going to be able to do it.” She included, “the students need someone who has a [professional] license in Spanish so they can progress in this subject. I’m happy to help.”

Many students have commented on the changes, as well as their time with Mr. Ariza. Sophomore Ariana Vernon had kind words for Mr. Ariza while still indicating her preference for having a licensed Spanish teacher in the room. She said, “Having an unlicensed Spanish teacher gave me a huge concern for Spanish 5, where it would get more difficult.”

Freshman Berelyne Chalas spoke about the bittersweet transition also, “I am happy yet saddened because he was a good teacher, but it feels good to know that I will have a continuous teacher for the rest of the year.”