Alejandra Arteaga, Spanish Teacher


Photo credited to Alejandra Arteaga

Alejandra Arteaga, Spanish Teacher

What is your name and department? My name is Alejandra Arteaga and I work in the World Language department. 

Did you teach at any other school other than North? No, I’ve been here for 20 years. I started working here when I was 22 right after college. I’ve just been here the whole time.

What is your favorite food? I wanna say that Mexican food is my favorite food. I eat it all the time, and if I don’t have it for a few days, I crave it. Anything with spice is really good. 

Do you have/had any pets? Yes, we have two pets at home. We have a turtle named Taylor, and we have a dog, I guess she’s not a puppy anymore because she’s one year old. Her name is Canella and she’s a cavapoo. She’s adorable. 

Latest movie recommendation? I really liked the last Wakanda movie. I thought it was awesome. I really liked the representation of Mexico and Central America that they had. 

What is something a student would be surprised to find out about you? I wasn’t very good at school. I struggled to get good grades when I was in high school. So when I tell my students, usually they’re shocked, they just assume, “You’re a teacher, you probably were a nerd”. But you know that’s not the case. I didn’t do very well in high school for a lot of reasons. 

What’s one of the best places you’ve traveled to? When I went to Europe with my husband, maybe like 10 years ago. It was really cool. We started out in Paris and we spent a couple days there. Then we flew to Barcelona, spent a few more days there, and then we took one of those really fast bullet trains from Barcelona to Madrid, and stayed there a few days as well. That was probably my favorite trip, but I have a lot of experiences and they’re all different, but still it was pretty cool.

Do you have a role model? If so, who? I would say my mom. She passed away two years ago. She was a single parent, very strong, and she had a pretty difficult life. I have a brother and there was three of us. Her goal was for her kids to be successful, and with the little she had and all the limitations, she did a pretty good job. 

What inspired you to teach Spanish at this school? I started out wanting to be a math teacher, but because I struggled so much in school and my English was not very good, Spanish seemed like the fastest route to graduation. And then I just fell in love with it. It’s more than just the language, the history, and the connection to my roots. You can do so much with it. And at this school, since it was my first job after college, I didn’t know where I wanted to be. I applied to different schools and then I had multiple offers and I chose this school, not really knowing too much about it. It was kind of by chance, but I’m really happy here. 

Why do you think Spanish is such an important language? I’ve been here for a long time and the classes that I teach are so different from when I started. I think now my focus is my heritage students and the love for our roots. That’s the most important thing to me. I really want my students to feel connected. And like I said, it’s more than just the language, it’s about learning a little bit of our contributions here in the United States and some of our heroes that are Latino in the US. So seeing Spanish as an obstacle, you’re not gonna do as well if your first language is Spanish, you should use it more like a tool and embrace it. Of course, you can say it opens a lot of opportunities. There’s more job possibilities and there’s a lot of people that speak Spanish in the United States. There’s also neighborhoods, like my mom never even learned English because there was no need. We always lived in neighborhoods where there was a high Mexican American population. But I think now I just want my students to really find love for their culture and be proud of it. 

What’s your favorite thing about this language? It was my first language. It’s home to me. When I think, I think in Spanish, so in my head I have to quickly translate what I wanna say. It just feels like home.