Visiting Teachers From Spain

It isn’t Yolanda Murcia’s first time to the rodeo. Murcia – a teacher from Spain – is back in Iowa for a new round of teaching Spanish in an Iowa school.

Yolanda Murcia
Yolanda Murcia

Murcia is part of the Visiting Teachers from Spain program, which the Iowa Department of Education administers. Murcia, who was part of the program in Iowa from 2015-17, said she yearned to come back to the Hawkeye state.

“I had a wonderful experience the first time I came,” she said. “But my kids were too young. Now that my kids are older, I want my kids to immerse themselves in Iowa and in English. I want them to have a full immersion in American culture.”

Murcia is one of 11 teachers who are new arrivals in Iowa for the upcoming school year. They will be teaching Spanish across the state. In an orientation, they learned what to expect during the school year, from Iowa’s bitterly cold weather to cultural differences.

An immersive experience also helps hone their English-speaking skills, learning, for instance, that the idiom “under the weather” isn’t a geographic location but a statement about one’s health.

In its 19th year, the Visiting Teachers from Spain program is a venture between the Iowa Department of Education and the Ministry of Education and Culture of Spain.

The Visiting Teachers from Spain program provides local school districts and accredited nonpublic schools with the opportunity to fill vacant Spanish positions. With this program, Iowa school systems have the option of recruiting highly qualified Spanish educators for a period of up to three years – with an opportunity to extend their teaching another two years. Visiting teachers from Spain are certified Spanish language educators with at least two years of experience.

In the upcoming school year, there will be 29 educators from Spain teaching across the state.

The Visiting Teachers from Spain get an orientation on what to expect teaching in Iowa's schools and living in the state.

Like the majority of the visiting teachers, Murcia brought her family: husband Bernar and their sons, 12-year-old Alvaro and 9-year-old Leo. Alvaro will be starting in middle school and Leo will be in the fourth grade.

Murcia is eager to go back into an Iowa classroom.

“I love the atmosphere in the schools, the students,” she said. “It’s like a movie – the small communities are focused on the schools. When we were here last time, we went to everything, such as all the games.”

While immersion hones her ability to speak English, Murcia said it also has made her a better educator.

“Last time I was here, I learned how teachers talk to the students,” she said. “In Spain, I just focused on content. But here the teachers look at the whole picture of each student and see them as individuals. I brought that to Spain and I became a better teacher because of it.”

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