Latinx teachers celebrate heritage

Staff members reflect on experience, importance of inclusion at LT

Macy Hepokoski, Indepth Editor

Sept. 15 marked the start of Latinx Heritage Month–a time to celebrate Latinx culture. At LT, there are many Latinx staff who share their experiences with students by incorporating their heritage into class content. This month is not the only time to celebrate Latinx culture and many celebrate it everyday, Spanish teacher Leonel Reyes said.

“Celebrating your heritage means connecting to loved ones and understanding the importance of your family’s values, traditions and cultures,” Reyes said.  

Reyes decided to become a teacher based on the lack of quality Spanish classes he had while growing up. Being a teacher has given him the opportunity to pass down his knowledge to his students.  

“I wanted to go back to the suburbs and do my part to help out the minority students in that area,” Reyes said.  

LT Spanish teacher Jose Fregoso uses his classroom to teach students about Latinx heritage and help them to feel a sense of belonging. He includes mini lessons within his curriculum that discuss topics such as Hispanic Independence Day on Sept. 16, and encourages his students to be proud of their heritage.

“I have to teach kids about who we are and not just the stereotypes that they have heard, and teaching has been a perfect platform to do that,” Fregoso said.  

Fregoso started teaching the Spanish Speakers class at LT in 2000 and has since seen immense change regarding inclusion at LT.  

“I really do think that the kids are being included in everything,” Fregoso said. “I think there are opportunities for everybody.” 

Statistically, there has been a 14.2% increase in the percentage of Hispanic students at LT between 2000 and 2020.  For these students, Latinx Heritage month is a time to celebrate who they are and where they come from. 

“I think this month is to recognize everybody’s contribution to this country,” Fregoso said.  

LT has improved its inclusion for both students and staff by giving everyone the opportunity to express who they are.

“It’s not just the teaching of Spanish and my experience with my native language, but also my experience living [in Mexico] and my experience growing up,” Fregoso said.  “So I try to share that with my students every opportunity that I have.”