Daniel Verdugo, Huron High School Spanish teacher

Born and raised in Spain, Daniel Verdugo has taught Spanish at Huron High School since 2018. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the Universidad de Barcelona, where his interest in languages, history, and cultures motivated him to become a Spanish teacher. Before joining Huron, Verdugo lived in Puerto Rico, where he began his teaching career. After completing the teaching program at the Universidad de Puerto Rico, he relocated to Michigan, where he lives with his wife, daughter, and son. Multilingualism is a key skill, he says, to envision a better future.

How does it feel to be back in the classroom this year?
It is always exciting to begin a new school year. The past two years have been quite a challenge; we are ready to meet the moment. 

When you recall your first year of teaching, what memories stand out?
In my first year of teaching, I served as a Spanish/Geography/French/Community Service teacher in Añasco, Puerto Rico. It was a thrilling experience, with lots of treasured memories. After that first year in the classroom, I realized I wanted to pursue a teaching career. 

What advice would you give to a first-year teacher?
To first-year teachers, I would recommend they focus on developing their methodology in the classroom. Teaching is a craft that improves over time. Know your basics, the rest will come.  

What inspired you to become a teacher?
I’ve always valued a sense of purpose in life, a feeling that what I do matters. When it comes to teaching, I have no doubt the work I do is important.

Are there advantages to being a Spanish teacher who is actually from Spain?
Yes, there are advantages and disadvantages. Most advantageous, I think, is the
possibility of using my own language and sharing my cultural heritage on a daily basis.
As for the disadvantages, sometimes I would like to discuss literature and other
aspects that are harder for learners of a second language.

Daniel Verdugo, teaching Spanish at Huron High School on Aug. 31, 2022

You’re the advisor for Ñ! magazine. What can you tell us about it?
Ñ! magazine is a bilingual class mag of Huron High School. Publishing a magazine as a class project aims to develop proficiency in Spanish at the same time that provides students with a media outlet to share their reflections and their work. The magazine has had a great reception in my classes. Students are excited to work on projects with a purpose, to collaborate to reach audiences, not just a grade. You can read the latest issue at  https://bit.ly/3NRhWZt 

What are your thoughts on AAPS’ emphasis on dignity and belonging this year? 
I appreciate the district’s efforts to promote and advance equitable practices. During my years of teaching in AAPS, I have had the opportunity to participate in critical conversations with peers, researchers, and experts about matters that affect educators. Kicking off the school year with a theme facilitates and frames these conversations. 

What’s unique about working at Huron?
I find Huron High School is a unique school in many aspects. First and foremost, I would point out the exceptional diversity of our school community. Few schools anywhere can compare to the great diversity of people, cultures, and languages that meet at Huron every day. It is inspiring to see schools as common ground for young people from around the world to meet and get to know each other.   

What do you wish everyone realized about the work of a teacher?
The teacher’s line of work is not an easy one. Delivering engaging activities requires a lot of planning. Developing social and emotional skills in our classrooms requires training. It’s young students we serve.

What’s the best thing about living in Michigan?
My experience living in Michigan is that of a newcomer to this country. I’ve made Michigan my home for the past five years, and I’ve always found it a welcoming and fascinating place. 

What’s one of your hidden talents?
I can juggle five balls on a good day. 

As someone who loves to cook, describe your perfect meal. Who would be at the table, where would you be, and what would you be eating?
My interest in cooking derives from my passion for eating. I envision a perfect meal over a long table outdoors with family and friends, a roasted pig, and a siesta afterward.  

Favorite website:

Apps you can’t live without:
I would be lost without Google Maps. 

What’s most exciting about your professional life right now?
I recently launched an educational initiative at myclassmag.com. We develop Open Educational Resources  to advance language learning and literacy. This year we completed the Open Education for a Better World mentorship program. As a result,  My class mag will be presented at UNESCO’s EDUSCOPE 2022 conference. I am very excited about it.

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