Teachers Before Townsend: Ms. Ezquerra’s teaching journey from Poland to New York City


Katherine Lian

Ms. Ezquerra, Spanish teacher at Townsend Harris.

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Before joining Townsend Harris High School, Spanish Teacher Beatriz Ezquerra taught overseas in Poland and Hungary. Her path to THHS was not a deliberate choice but rather an unexpected twist of fate. 

Since her childhood, Ms. Ezquerra’s heart has resonated with the art of learning. Her passion for knowledge and literature, combined with the influential role models she encountered during her academic journey, inspired her to pursue a career in teaching.

While teaching in Poland, Ms. Ezquerra decided to take a chance on an opportunity provided by the Spanish government’s agreement with the New York Department of Education. She never expected to be chosen, “I thought it was a big thing to aim [for]. I was already a teacher in a pretty demanding school back in Poland, but I decided to give it a try. I passed the first selection process and [then] the next selection process,” she said. 

When she arrived in America, a teaching position at THHS became available during a job fair. Ms. Ezquerra eagerly seized the opportunity, recalling, “Townsend Harris wasn’t a choice, it was an opportunity.” Immigrating from a foreign country to America was undoubtedly challenging. Ms. Ezquerra recalls the numerous “ugly encounters with [impatient individuals]” she faced when she first started living in America. While it may be easy to tell someone to simply “learn English,” learning a completely new language is neither easy nor quick. 

Based on her own experiences, Ms. Ezquerra understands the importance of acknowledging that not everyone in her class is a native speaker. Hence, she zeros in and encourages her students to “pronounce and project their voices,” a specific detail she noticed in her former English teacher, as she incorporates it into her present line of work.  Ultimately,  she aims to create a safe and comfortable space in her classroom. A current student in her Spanish 3 class, Sophomore Eric Choi, said, “Last year, I could not understand a single thing [in Spanish class], and all I did was sleep. Meeting Ms. Ezquerra made me happier to study and learn Spanish. I now look forward to going to Spanish class and laugh at the many jokes she makes during class.” 

Sophomore Sophia Sukhdeo agreed, “Ms. Ezquerra’s sense of humor during class and her sense of familiarity with the students make the environment feel much more welcoming as we learn and take the stress off of doing things right.” 

Ms. Ezquerra strongly emphasizes the realm of possibilities synonymous with learning a new language. “It can be an interesting and life changing experience, but it is your dedication that will determine your success in learning a language. Everything in life requires ethics, effort, and honesty,” she said. Ms. Ezquerra’s vibrant personality creates a collage of memories in her classroom that acts as a pillar of everything Townsend Harris represents: someone who is passionate, sincere, caring, and dedicated to her work of educating the next generation.