April 13, 2022
Faculty Spotlight: Alberto Munoz
Please give us some background on yourself and your experience.
After receiving my bachelor’s degree from Catholic University in Puerto Rico, I came to the state of Kansas to start fresh. While trying to understand the culture and language, I worked different meaningless jobs. Thanks to those jobs, I decided to enroll in school again. I applied to Kansas State University and graduated with two master’s degrees: one in Spanish literature and the other in education. After finishing my degrees, my first job was as a Spanish professor at Doane University in Nebraska for four years. I had a fantastic teaching experience, as I helped students learn and experience the language for the first time in their lives! After Doane, I moved to Chicago and taught at a community college for a year as a Spanish instructor. Then, my wife Aimee and I realized that the weather was not cooperating, so we chose North Carolina as our next destination. Once there, I taught Spanish at the high school level.
I come from a family of teachers. My grandmother was a social worker in a school setting, and my brother and uncle were physical education teachers. So, after deciding what I wanted to do as an adult, I experimented as a graduate teaching assistant at Kansas State, and I fell in love with the profession.
What brought you to GCS?
While teaching at Cardinal Gibbons in North Carolina, my wife found a job at Pandora Jewelry in Columbia, MD. It was an excellent opportunity for her, so we decided to give Maryland a try. When I arrived, I worked as a personal strength trainer for a year before applying at GCS. In 2016, I was lucky to see a part-time position at GCS. When I came for the interview, I fell in love with the campus, the personnel, and how students and teachers interacted with each other. After being offered a part-time job and falling in love with the school, another teacher from the Spanish department left GCS, and I was lucky to be offered her position. So, I guess it worked out!
What is one of the most rewarding moments as a teacher?
Teaching has many rewards. However, for a foreign language teacher, I suppose there is nothing more rewarding than having an alum come back to visit you and tell you that they have continued learning the language in college and that you have contributed to their decision. It is an incredible feeling!
How has the pandemic changed your approach to teaching? Any advantages?
The pandemic has changed everything we used to do as teachers. It has forced me, for instance, to be more creative in how I present the material to my students. Although the content of the language has not changed, I now must rely heavily on technology and let the students explore the language on their own. It has changed my classroom dynamic from a teacher-centered to a student-centered environment, and the students seem to enjoy this freedom. In addition, it gives them more control over their learning.
What advice do you have for students learning in a pandemic?
Learning will continue regardless of a pandemic. Knowledge means that we are alive, and if we don’t learn, we are stuck, and unfortunately, we will not make much progress in life. Students should take this opportunity to explore and try to learn about themselves and their ways of learning. Do I learn better by using a computer? Or do I need to handwrite my notes? Or am I better watching videos to understand the lesson? Finding the answers to these questions in high school will give students a head start before going to college. In other words, our students are in a unique position because this pandemic teaches them how to be independent learners.