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Steele’s Spanish roots inspire students

Spanish+teacher+Karla+Steele+immigrated+to+the+United+States+from+Nicaragua+as+a+child.
Spanish teacher Karla Steele immigrated to the United States from Nicaragua as a child.

Spanish teacher Karla Steele immigrated to the United States from Nicaragua as a child.

Photo Carey Davis

Photo Carey Davis

Spanish teacher Karla Steele immigrated to the United States from Nicaragua as a child.

Rebecca Poretsky, Staff Writer

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Algonquin has been a home for Spanish teacher Karla Steele for the past 17 years where she has taught every Spanish class available, with hopes of inspiring and helping her students the way teachers had done for her when she emigrated from Central America.

“[Teachers] really went out of their way to get all kinds of materials to help me learn English, like my English teacher was getting the books on tape for me,” Steele said. “She didn’t have to do that. They were really going above and beyond.”

Steele immigrated to America at the age of nine, when her parents decided to flee from their home in Nicaragua. At the time, a war and revolution were occurring. They relocated to America where Steele is now able to use her Spanish roots to benefit her students.

“When I teach Spanish I think they’re getting the authentic accent,” Steele said. “Not only do I teach the language, but I love throwing the culture in there whenever I can relate it. I tell them stories about different culture in Latin America that I lived through.”

She is humble, she is caring, she is funny.”

— Social studies teacher Gina Johnston

The obstacles Steele faced as a child help her understand where her students are coming from and what she can do to make an effective learning environment.

“We all come from so many different places; we all have so many different stories,” Steele said. “I think as a teacher that’s huge to be diverse in that sense and be able to be empathetic of all the different things kids are going through.”

Not only does Steele impact and inspire her students, but she does the same for people close to her, such as history teacher Gina Johnston.

“She is humble, she is caring, she is funny… I’ve never had her in class, but when I walk by she’s so animated,” Johnston said.

Steele’s kindness has touched many lives, and she helps her students, such as junior Maiya Ellis who is taking her third class with Steele, develop the confidence to continue on with Spanish.

“As she’s teaching she’ll be able to share her personal experiences with culture; it makes Spanish more interesting,” Ellis said. “Not only is she a good teacher but she’s funny. She makes learning fun, and she’s a good all around person.”

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Steele’s Spanish roots inspire students