We have a number of Randolph employees whose roles are unique to our school and whose work makes a difference to the quality of the student experience. Lower School Spanish teacher Roxy Vega is one of Randolph's Difference-Makers.
What do you do?
My goals are different for each grade, although in all grades I want them to be comfortable speaking, listening, asking and answering questions. "No se," is a great answer because even if you don't know, you answered in a complete sentence in Spanish.
In Kindergarten, I get them ready for 1st grade Spanish. We do a lot with the alphabet, reading, spelling, singing. I want class to fly by and for them to leave wanting more. In the 1st grade we do more with the alphabet, with accents. Why are there four extra letters in Spanish? Second graders take French and in 3rd grade, students choose to continue either French or Spanish. In 3rd grade, we continue to build vocabulary and conversational skills while learning about food.
I'm like a tour guide for all the Spanish-speaking countries. Culture is a big part of language study. We learn about the Day of the Dead, why they have it, and we make the sugar skulls. In the 4th grade, we dig into geography. Where do they speak Spanish in the world and why? They ask why we're not learning about Brazil. Because they speak Portuguese. Why? And so we talk about Columbus and the Age of Exploration. They have so much enthusiasm for learning everything.
What’s different about your work here?
The freedom and flexibility I have with curriculum. If something is not working, I can change it on the spot.
At school, I’m never without …
My cafe con leche.
Where can you be found most days?
In my classroom. I coach the flag team for 1st-3rd grades in the fall, and other days I have a group of about 16 Lower School students who have Middle School siblings who come to my room instead of After-care to study Spanish. They love to show off what they know to their older siblings. My 3rd and 4th grade students make flash cards to quiz each other when we have indoor recess.
What can students do over the summer vacation to keep practicing?
I love the apps Duolingo, Fun Spanish, and Mindsnacks. These apps have games where you compete against yourself. Third and 4th graders crave competition, so this motivates them.
When you tell people what you do, what do they ask?
They ask if the kids start speaking Spanish right away. But, you know, if you start teaching them early, before they are afraid to make a mistake, when they can shrug it off, they do! My 3rd and 4th graders can put four or five words into a sentence without thinking. And the earlier you start learning a language, the greater the retention you have.
What’s your philosophy about your work?
The students are like sponges, but you have to keep them engaged and make sure everyone gets a chance to speak. I think it's so important to have a second language. Most people in the world do have at least a second language.
Describe a great day at work.
When the students come in ready to be challenged.
Best time of the school year and why?
I love starting geography with 4th grade in the fall.
Interim was also fun. I taught softball classes for K/1 and 2/3 that week. My daughter is in 7th grade and plays varsity as well as being on a travel team. It's a sport I love, so I want to encourage younger players.
Favorite school tradition?
Grandparents & Special Friends Day! And I love hearing about their grandkids telling them how much they have learned. They say, "I wish I had had this."