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I am standing on top of the Aztec Pyramid of the Sun! The Pyramid of the Moon is behind me in the distance.

provided by Tess Scheiben

Scheiben’s passion for Español

May 21, 2019

Spanish teacher Tess Scheiben has been interested in Spanish since she was in the sixth grade, it was then she discovered her love for the language. Since then, she had dreamt about having a profession that involves Spanish.

“I have always had a passion for learning Spanish,” she said. “I started taking Spanish in the 6th grade and I had a strong feeling at that point that Spanish would be an important part of my life and possibly my career. I chose to continue taking Spanish because I had so many great teachers along the way, who encouraged me and recognized my abilities.  Many of whom taught me right here at RHS and other local schools. I could see early on that learning to communicate in Spanish would benefit me greatly considering how quickly the number of Spanish speakers in our community was increasing.”

provided by Tess Scheiben
Monte Alban is located in Oaxaca, México. Monte Alban is an archeological site where you can find Zapotec ruins.

When Scheiben was a sophomore at Earlham in 2004, she studied abroad which helped her see the world differently.

Studying abroad took me out of my comfort zone,” she said. “I was 19 years old and it was my first time away from home. It was such a great experience. It taught me to appreciate what I have at home and who I am. This experience also gave me some new perspectives on what life is like outside of Richmond. I am forever grateful that I was placed with the Garcia-Gonzalez family.”

Since she studied abroad, Scheiben stays connected with her host family over the past years.

“When we have long breaks I take the time to go visit my host family from when I studied abroad,” she said. “For many summers I have returned to Cuautla, Morelos, México to visit them. I usually spend a good half of the summer living life with my host family and traveling around to different parts of Mexico. Two of my favorite places in Mexico are Oaxaca and Mexico City.”

By staying connected to her host family, the love for the Spanish language has grown and so has her connection with others.

Who knows what I would be doing with my life had I not fallen in love with learning Spanish,” Scheiben said. “Knowing another language has connected me with people with whom I may have never had the opportunity to meet had it not been for being bilingual. I have made friends with people from Mexico, Colombia, and Panama. I also have a second home – Mexico. My host family in Mexico is truly my second family and they have played a huge role in helping me to become the person I am today.”

In her spare and free time, she likes to be in her own world that consists of a lot of Spanish in its culture.

“During my free time I enjoy watching telenovelas en español on Netflix,” she said. “I also like to listen to music in Spanish at home while I am cooking at the moment I am perfecting my salsa and guacamole recipes too!”

Once you’ve found a love for something, it becomes hard to find something that doesn’t involve your passion.

“I cannot imagine being anything other than a Spanish teacher (not only do I teach at RHS, but I also teach online Spanish for IUE),” she said. “I think it would be fun to become a professional World Traveler and write travel blogs or articles about places to go, sites to see, and food to try Mexico. I guess I could work for Travel + Leisure magazine. I would love to get paid to travel and explore. Maybe one day…when I retire!”

Even when Scheiben travels, her favorite place to travel in Mexico.

My favorite place to travel in Mexico, besides visiting my host family, is Oaxaca,” she said. “I love wandering the streets of Oaxaca. Most of my time spent in Oaxaca has consisted of leisurely drinking coffee and tea in cafes, eating tacos dorados in small local restaurants, and buying tapetes, or rugs, and alebrijes, or small wooden painted animal sculptures, in the various artisan markets scattered throughout Oaxaca.”

provided by Tess Scheiben
I am with my host family in Tepoztlán, Morelos, México

With so much experience with this language, Scheiben has been teaching it to students for some years.

This is year 11 for me as a teacher,” she said. “I started my career as an emergency teacher at Connersville High School and then accepted a position at Seton Catholic High School. I taught there for a year and a half before crossing the gorge to come to RHS to replace my former Spanish teacher, Arlene Koester. I have taught all levels of Spanish. At Seton, I taught 7th and 8th grade Spanish as well as Spanish 1 through 4. At RHS, I have also taught Spanish 1 – AP Spanish.  In addition to teaching at RHS, I teach part-time online at IUE. I have taught SPAN 100, SPAN 150, and SPAN 200. I also have had the opportunity to teach the Methods in Foreign Language graduate course at Earlham College for student teachers studying to become World Language teachers.”

Word of advice for anyone scared to learn a new language, just do it.

Go for it,” Scheiben said. “Learning another language opens so many doors. Being bilingual is a 21st-century skill. The United States is behind the times. Students should begin learning a second language much earlier than 9th grade. Learning another language can allow you to travel abroad to many other countries and be able to competently communicate with native speakers. I think it helps you to blend in a little better when you travel outside the U.S. It is a positive aspect because it shows the locals that you have taken the extra steps to appreciate a huge part of their culture – language. It is also impressive. Most people ask me where I learned Spanish. They are surprised when I tell them that I started learning Spanish when I was 12 years old in a school in Richmond, IN. I get a lot of surprised looks!”

Scheiben is known to push students to their limits so they are able to reach their true and full potential.

Ms. Scheiben is an exemplary teacher and member of the RHS community,” junior Harrison Frame said. “She pushes all her students to be the best that they can be and has created a kind of productive learning environment. I have greatly enjoyed my time in her class, and encourage my fellow students to take her course(s).”

There are many things teachers want their students to learn. Like many teachers, Scheiben wants her students to take life lessons from her class and also Spanish.

Study another language,” she said. “Travel! Explore! Enjoy your life! Find your passion! Surround yourself with positive people! Spend less time looking at your phone and more time interacting with others in person!”

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