While+passing+out+papers%2C+AP+Spanish+5+teacher+Eileen+Qui%C3%B1ones+talks+to+juniors+Andrick+Lopez+and+Luke+Cavallo.+

Cara Helton

While passing out papers, AP Spanish 5 teacher Eileen Quiñones talks to juniors Andrick Lopez and Luke Cavallo.

Eileen Quiñones, Spanish

There was a time that I dreaded the end of my third period class. As I considered what could happen in the next class period, my teeth would often begin to chatter and I could feel the cold sweat seeping from every pore. When the bell rang for passing period, my feet would drag me unwilling to my destination, as if in the midst of a nightmare. As I took my seat, very intentionally chosen in the back corner of the room, I braced myself mentally and mouthed a silent prayer for survival. My AP Spanish 4 class terrified me, and it would take the entire year and much of Spanish 5 for me to realize that the intensity that Señora Quiñones infuses into her lessons was not something to fear, but rather a manifestation of the passion and true benevolence with which Senora Quiñones approaches teaching. 

Until the first day of my sophomore year, I had considered myself a Spanish virtuoso. Spanish 1, 2, and 3 had been no harder than any other class, and I signed up to take AP Spanish 4 with a sense of cocky self-assurance. My delusion was shattered quickly. I remember one instance in particular, when Señora Quiñones asked me a question regarding a textbook reading that our class had been working on. Naturally, the question was in Spanish, and at the time, I had a better chance of understanding Latin. My default response to this situation was to pretend that I did not realize that I was being addressed; and when this failed, I would stare at the textbook, as if in deep contemplation, all the while praying that a more able Spanish-speaker would step in to deliver me from my torment. Rather than accept responsibility to better my situation in Spanish, I attempted to sink further away from participation in the class, and would even physically cringe under my desk to avoid being called on. But Señora Quiñones is too passionate a teacher to allow even one of her students to cheat themselves of the opportunity to learn.

Señora Quiñones encouraged me to participate in class, whether that be by reading from the textbook, answering the simple questions that I could understand, or working on group projects with classmates who could lend a helping hand. Throughout my sophomore and junior year, her room has always been open during flex, and no matter how behind I was or how inept, Señora Quiñones would always greet me with a smile and make certain that I was making the most of my time.

Today, I can confidently say that I feel excited to leave the cafeteria after flex, and enter my sixth period AP Spanish 5 class. This drastic change in attitude is undoubtedly the sole credit of Señora Quiñones, who has guided me to become a student who is open-minded, humble, and willing to take academic risks. I have been incredibly fortunate that she has provided me with skills to succeed and grow not only in the Spanish classroom or even academics as a whole, but in life itself.

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