Spanish teacher brings Puerto Rican experiences
Easton, Kan. -
Courtney Marsh said he realized that he should teach professionally while instructing a little girl from the Republic of Guinea about five years ago.
As a student at Emporia State University in Emporia, Kan., Marsh volunteered several days a week to teach the girl at the Butcher Elementary School on campus. The girl spoke French but no English — Marsh is fluent in both French and Spanish.
“She learned so fast, to see her transform from this scared little immigrant girl who’d only been in the country a few days to a fully capable kid,” Marsh said.
Marsh, 29, is the new Spanish teacher at Pleasant Ridge High School. He previously taught for two years in Puerto Rico.
Marsh received a bachelor of science degree in education with fields in Spanish and French. He also received an endorsement in English as a second language.
His wife, Kelly, teaches kindergarten at MacArthur Elementary School on Fort Leavenworth. The couple taught on Fort Leavenworth two years prior to teaching in Puerto Rico. Courtney Marsh also has teaching experience in Sabetha, Kan.
Marsh and his wife attended an international recruitment fair at the University of Northern Iowa. They received three job offers in Armenia, Guatemala and Puerto Rico. The couple ruled out Armenia pretty fast because of geography, he said.
“We had a really tough choice between Guatemala and Puerto Rico,” Marsh said.
For the Guatemala job, two American women interviewed Marsh. He said he asked them, “Do you feel safe when you go out?”.
“They kind of danced around the issue,” Marsh said. “They wouldn’t come out and tell me ‘Yes.’ I wasn’t going to jeopardize my wife’s or my safety for a job.”
The decision between Guatemala and Puerto Rico was a difficult one, but Marsh’s wife had a great idea, he said. They knew they wanted family members to visit them, so they checked airline ticket prices for the two locations.
“It was almost three times as much for Guatemala, so we knew no one would ever come see us,” Marsh said. “We chose Puerto Rico.”
In Puerto Rico, Marsh learned a significant amount of Spanish and honed his skills, he said.
“I learned what it was like to be the minority, which was a pretty powerful and pretty moving experience,” he said. “You walk into a restaurant and a grocery store, and you get looked at and people say things.”
Several cultural artworks hang on the walls in Marsh’s classroom, including a photograph of Ernesto “Che” Guevara and “Three Musicians” by Pablo Picasso. Marsh tries to incorporate arts and history in his teaching — the works of art are good conversation pieces, he said.
His favorite Spanish proverb is “En boca cerrada, no entran moscas,” which means “Flies don’t enter a closed mouth.”
As a hands-on teacher, Marsh incorporates cultural quizzes, crossword puzzles, vocabulary quizzes and map making in all of his classes.
“Keep your expectations reasonable,” Marsh said as advice to those who learn another language. “It’s going to require a lot of work if you’re going to succeed. It’s not going to happen overnight.”
This article was written about Courtney and is on the front page of the Leavenworth Times this week. It's an okay article - the writer wasn't very good - and it took FOREVER for her to finish. She no longer works at the paper by the way. Anyway! I say it was "controversial". If you read the article it talks about posters that Courtney has in his classroom because he teaches everything about the hispanic culture. There was also a picture in the article of him that showed a Mexican flag in the background. He has a Mexican flag, a Spanish flag, and of course a U.S. flag. If he had a Puerto Rican flag he'd hang that up too (hint, hint Puerto Rican friends!!!!). Anyway - when the article first showed up on the internet there was a comment section. What started out as a nice, harmless, informative article about Courtney and his experiences blew up. Two men started leaving comments about how Courtney is un-American, he's a marxist revolutionary, and his heroes are murderers, etc., etc. They deleted the comment section because it got out of hand. Well Courtney started looking under other articles and their comment sections and sure enough the men moved to a different article to bash him. They started talking about how they should report him to the board of education and his principal because he is incorporating his own politics into his teaching - blah, blah, blah! Well Kelly got pissed. I called the editor of the paper yesterday!!! I basically told him that what they were writing was bashing my husband and they were trying to take something innocent and give him a bad name and I wanted to know what he was going to do about it. I got him to "screen" any comments from these two men and I even got their real names! Ha! After my phone call Courtney stopped in to meet him. In the end nothing really is going to happen but we feel better that their comments were removed and they will not be able to write anything about him unless they re-register under different e-mail addresses. I don't understand how some people can be so ignorant and have nothing better to do with their time then read these articles, pick something little out of them and try to cause problems. Oh well! If you want to read the article online and see the picture you can go to: http://www.leavenworthtimes.com/news/x466653797/Spanish-teacher-brings-Puerto-Rican-experiences.
I'm not sure how long it will be up there but it's there as of today. What a week!!