Growing up in Mexico, Yadira Lara loved art, art history, painting, photography and creating collages and recycled art projects.
She has a degree in graphic design and has even taught art classes.
But as the 2020-2021 school year approaches, Yadira is busy planning Spanish classes she will teach at St. Mary School in Morris.
“I want to share my language, share my traditions, share my history,” she said. “It’s not only about Mexico. I am thinking I want to share all about the Spanish language. I’m excited for the opportunity to share my traditions and culture.”
Yadira came to Morris from Mexico in 2005 with her husband, Nicolás. They stayed for five years, moved to South Dakota for a time, and then returned to Morris five years ago. They have three girls, Aranza, 10, Anna Paula, 7 and Ainhoa, 4. All three are attending St. Mary’s this fall.
Anticipating her youngest starting preschool, Yadira started thinking about going to work.
“My first language is Spanish, and I was looking for a job with a proper purpose,” she said.
Yadira grew up Catholic and her faith is very important to her. “Faith is first for me, for my family,” she said. “Our values are the same, just the language is different.”
Her family has been active in Assumption Parish in Morris, so she approached then-Principal Joseph Ferriero about teaching Spanish two days a week. The school had a Spanish teacher last year, but she left in the middle of the school year, so there was an opening.
Yadira also is looking forward to being able to see her kids at school. “I can see the kids practicing their faith, too,” she added.
Teaching two days a week leaves time for other things she loves to do — spending time with family and her two dogs, reading, running, doing Crossfit, and family sports like golfing, biking, swimming and softball.
As the number of people in the area who speak Spanish grows, Yadira says it’s important for the non-Spanish-speaking students to be able to communicate well with them. Knowing an extra language can open a lot of doors, she said.
“And it’s not only the language, it’s the history, again, it’s the relationships,” she said. “I think it’s important for them to know some of the history and the culture of people who are not the same as them.”
Yadira seeks to teach creatively, using activities and multimedia presentations, she said.
“It’s a more visual way of teaching,” she said. “This is my intention, that they have an experience, and they are learning. The grammar, it’s important, but is not the most important thing. The most important, I think, is the communication back and forth.”
She will work with all age levels — preschool through sixth grade — to set a good foundation, so they will be prepared to take their skills further when they get to high school and college, she said.
“The most important thing is that the kids trust me, they can see that I’m enthusiastic,” she said. “I am a passionate person, and I like the challenge, too.”