By James Jewell.
For four years now, Heritage Academy has had a new Spanish teacher, Sr. Jewell. He has loved his time teaching the students and has recently been able to see some of his students use Spanish in their lives.
When Sr. Jewell was young, his linguist-father got a job in Colorado for Adam State College. From there he was sent to Puebla, Mexico. The family stayed there three years. While living there, young Sr. Jewell went to a Baptist school for English speakers in first grade. His main exposure to Spanish was a maid, TV, luchadores, and cartoons. At age nine, the family moved back to the States; this time to Texas. There, Sr. Jewell tried to speak some Spanish to local Hispanic students, but they didn’t talk to him. This was because the school programs believed that students who spoke two languages would do poorly in school and therefore tried to keep bilingual students speaking only English. Consequently, he forgot the little Spanish he had learned. Later in life, he served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Mexico, speaking Spanish. Once he started learning again, the Spanish he once knew “came flooding back to [him]”.
In college, Sr. Jewell continued to study Spanish and even took a Latin-American History class. In his sophomore year, he decided he wanted to teach. However, he didn’t know if he wanted to teach History or Spanish. He chose Spanish. Originally, he was going to teach college-level Spanish, which meant he had to get a PhD in linguistics or phonetics. In graduate school he studied linguistics. Teaching part-time for eight years, Sr. Jewell began to teach other college students. Immediately after graduating, he taught for 16 years at a small college named Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri. Then he moved with his family to Mesa, his current home, and has been teaching for four years at Heritage. Overall, Sr. Jewell has been teaching Spanish for 28 years.
Each summer, he goes to Cincinnati, Ohio to grade AP Spanish tests. In his free time, when he’s not grading your papers, Sr. Jewell enjoys mountain biking with his family and working with wood. In fact, he brought some oak wood from Missouri and made a rather nice table out of it. He also likes playing basketball with some teachers and ward members from his church.
One summer, he took his eldest daughter to Spain. There they saw amazing gardens, grand castles, and beautiful cathedrals, including the Alhambra. This trip made him believe “Everyone should go abroad.” It is his goal to take a class abroad to Puerto Rico. Through his career and studies, Sr. Jewell has come to love Spanish culture and teaching others about it. He is grateful for the opportunity to come teach at Heritage Academy.