While most Spanish teachers go by “profesor” or “profesora,” Thelma Mooney prefers her students to call her the more informal “maestra.”
This current school year is Mooney’s eighth year teaching Spanish and first year at CVHS teaching Spanish 2 and AP Spanish.
“I think I was born a teacher. Good teachers teach throughout their life. I was always excited to learn and just wanted to share what I learned with others,” she said.
Mooney’s eagerness to teach is apparent to her students and permeates the classroom atmosphere.
“I like maestra’s class because she’s always enthusiastic about the topic and she does a really good job explaining to us the stories that we read, making them more interesting and relatable,” claimed Sarah Blacher, a senior in Mooney’s AP Spanish class.
Although Mooney loves teaching any age group, teenagers are her favorite.
“Teenage years are such a beautiful time. Whenever anyone over 30 years old is asked about their teenage years, they always smile,” said Mooney.
The adolescent students of CVHS can easily see her love for teaching.
“Maestra Mooney is an exemplary educator and has all the characteristics of a wonderful teacher,” stated Travis Mattas, a TA for Mooney’s sixth period class.
From experience, Mooney knows the difficulties of learning a new language, which helps her teach Spanish to non-native speakers. Born in El Salvador, Mooney lived there until she was 13 years old. During eighth grade, her family fled from the El Salvadoran civil wars in the 1980s and immigrated to the United States.
“I remember my friends the most and growing up with them, especially the day I left because I never saw them again,” revealed Mooney.
Coming to America, Mooney did not speak English, but surrounded herself with English speakers and quickly learned the language.
She advises recent immigrants to “have patience because everyone wants to go back. But the US really is the land of opportunity to those who seek it.”
Previously, Mooney taught at a charter school of approximately 400 students compared to the nearly 3,000 students at CVHS. Although the student-teacher ratio was lower at her old school, Mooney already loves CVHS.
“What’s there not to love?” she asked. “The staff feels like [a] family of really warm people. And the students are very respectful towards me which is something I really value.”
After taking her Spanish class, she hopes that her students leave with a strong desire to continue learning Spanish and that her class changed their lives forever.
“I hope that I can be a person they can think back to as someone in their life just as my students have become a part of my life,” she said.