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Welcome, Mrs. Marisela Belmonte

Mrs. Marisela Belmonte is the new Spanish teacher, teaching ACP Spanish III, IV, and V, Honors Spanish II, and Spanish III. For Mrs. Belmonte, a native of Mexico, teaching Spanish is a joy because she is able to teach in her first language and to share her love of her culture with her students.

In Mexico, Mrs. Belmonte taught computer science and business, but when her husband, Jose Luis, was transferred to Oklahoma in 2005 to work in a concrete plant, she saw the opportunity to teach Spanish, she said. She obtained her master’s of education from East Central University in Ada, Okla., and was offered a position to teach Spanish while earning her degree. After earning her degree, she taught full time at the University of Oklahoma while also teaching in a public high school in Norman, Okla.

In 2017, her husband was transferred to Sellersburg, and she began teaching Spanish at Indiana University Southeast, where she still teaches Spanish part-time. Mrs. Belmonte also taught at Parkwood Elementary in Clarksville as teacher for English Language Learners. Although she enjoyed working with young students, she missed teaching in Spanish and was thrilled when she learned about the job opening here.

“Teaching in Spanish is my passion,” Mrs. Belmonte said. “I can speak in my language and teach my culture, and that fills my heart. Learning the culture is a key to learning the language.”

It’s only been a few weeks, but already she said she feels “at home,” she said. The teachers have all welcomed her and are ready to help her if she needs anything, and the students are eager to learn. She enjoys the positive environment and the respect the students show to their teachers.

“I love the quality that I see in the students,” Mrs. Belmonte said. “They really want to learn, and they are really well prepared. They can have a conversation in Spanish with me, and I feel sure that if they continue, they will become fluent Spanish speakers.”

Mrs. Belmonte is part of a group of Latina women from 26 different countries who share their culture with each other, which gives her an opportunity to learn other Spanish-speaking cultures – and to share what she learns with her students. She also enjoys playing tennis and hiking with her three children, ages 17 to 22. Each one graduated from high school a year early, and the oldest is, Memo, is a chemical engineer. Her son Rogrido and daughter Michelle attend the University of Louisville.

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Teacher Profile: Ms. Vander Woude

Ms. Monica Vander Woude is thrilled to be able to share her faith and her relationship with God with her theology students. A recent graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville (Ohio) with a double major in history and education, her role as theology teacher came about after she worked for a year as a consultant and then as a long-term substitute teacher at a Catholic high school in Louisville.

Having earned her degree at Franciscan University, she is well prepared to teach theology even though her background is in history. The college had a number of requirements in theology and philosophy, and in her history courses, it was common for discussions to include the influence of the Church on historical events, she said. So she is quite familiar with the material. She is even more thrilled to be able to share her faith and her joy of being in a relationship with God.

“I love how interconnected everything is, including our understanding of the world and the creation God has made,” Ms. Vander Woude said. “Also, I love sharing my relationship with God with my students and hoping and wanting them to encounter him too. I get excited about it.”

Ms. Vander Woude grew up in a home where faith and an emphasis on learning were central, which influenced her choice of college and her major. She still lives at home and is the oldest of 14 children, the youngest of whom is 18 months old. Two of her siblings are in college, one just graduated from college, two are in high school, six are in grade school – including one set of twins –, and two are not yet in school.

Her home is a busy place but one filled with fun and laughter, especially with young children to share the “joy of childhood every day,” she said. Being part of a large family draws lots of questions from others, including her students, but to her, her family is part of her identity.

“I love how they’re such a huge part of my life and a positive part of my life,” she said. “We all challenge each other to grow every day.”

In her free time, Ms. Vander Woude enjoys to travel and spend time with friends, but her primary hobby is reading.

“I’m always looking for a good book,” she said.

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