From around the world to Chantilly

Language teachers offer a world of experiences


Gonzalez visits Montmartre, a historic district in Paris, during her birthday weekend while living in France. Gonzalez incorporates her real-world experiences in her everyday classroom.

Gray Jones, News Editor


Whether it’s world travel or passion for learning, there are many paths that can lead one to become a language teacher. It can take a significant amount of patience to teach high school students, and there is an undeniable shared love of students among the Chantilly language teachers.

“I just love high school kids. I love their enthusiasm,” Latin teacher Stacey Kenkeremath said. “I get to do my favorite thing with a group of my favorite people.”

Kenkeremath has loved Latin since she was a freshman in high school, and she combined her passion for the language with her affinity for teaching to help others understand its significance. She majored in Latin in college and has been teaching it ever since. Although there are no more native Latin speakers, there are many derivatives that can be found in other languages like English and Spanish.

“I love the fact that I can cream my husband in crossword puzzles and ‘Jeopardy’ because of my background in Latin,” Kenkeremath said.

Language teachers often have grown up in a different country speaking their native language. Spanish teacher Zoraida Vazquez, for example, grew up in the Dominican Republic and moved to America when she was 18. Unlike some teachers, Vazquez went into the military as a sergeant teacher. In this line of work, she was exposed to a teaching style that was unlike what her own school teachers would use, and she had to adjust her style when she started teaching younger students.

“When I finished my basic training, I registered for a four-year school and my major was bilingual elementary education,” Vazquez said. “When I did my student teaching in elementary education, I didn’t like it, so I did my master’s in secondary education.”

A language teacher isn’t always of the same background as the language they teach. French teacher Elaine Gonzalez grew up in the U.S., speaking English as her main language.

“I started taking French in high school,” Gonzalez said. “When I went to college, I was just taking more and more French classes because I enjoyed them.” 

Although she has not spoken French her whole life, Gonzalez has grown to love and master the language. Learning a second language can be extremely difficult, but with plentiful experiences, teaching it becomes easier. Gonzalez even temporarily moved to France to immerse herself in the culture.

“It was the year in France that really [helped me], because I was kind of thrown into the fire,” Gonzalez said. “I made sure that I spoke with French-speaking people and I did not speak much English at all during that year.”

Regardless of their individual paths, the Chantilly language teachers all share a passion for education and working with young people.

“I love high school kids because you guys are your own people now,” Gonzalez said. “I guess [a teacher] was just something that I was always working to become.”