Megan Probasco, a Coronado High School Spanish teacher, has been selected to represent CHS at the California Language Teachers’ Association conference in March for a special training. According to Maylen Rafuls, who is the World Languages Teacher on Special Assignment, CALLI is “an intensive teacher leadership program for world language teachers that takes place during the CA Language Teachers’ conference… During the workshop, Megan will deepen her understanding of the new framework, ACTFL’s six core high-leverage language teaching practices (HLLTP’s) and engage her leadership capacity; she’ll be able to bring this back to the department and share. This is a great honor and Megan will represent us as a department and district with the utmost professionalism and pride!”
Probasco is honored to have been nominated and accepted and looks forward to understanding more about the new state standards and how she can inform the staff and integrate them into her classes. She teaches Spanish II and AP Spanish and will add Spanish I in the spring.
CUSD has been given a grant by the Department of Defense to be used for hiring new teachers in the expansion of world languages. Purchases of materials such as books, subscriptions to magazines, professional development, and collaboration time are also included. Administering the STAMP test, another component of the grant, allows for testing so the students can track their language acquisition.
Having taught in Coronado only two years, Probasco still feels the enthusiasm of a new teacher, although she had taught before becoming a stay-at-home mom. Sharing her passion for Spanish and its culture and being able to make the subject matter relevant and useful are important pieces of her goal set for the classes. While mastering the language is paramount in her classes, introducing life skills is important. Probasco knows that keeping the material relevant makes the language assignments meaningful, which translates into more retained learning. She said, “I try to bring real life into the classroom because at the end of the day that’s kind of what seems to stick.”
The World Work Unit concentrated on job applications, interviews, and special terminology in Spanish speaking countries. The students filled out European style resumes and interviewed each other, all in Spanish. In Spanish II, a health unit introduces the students to language used when a doctor is needed. “If you were to ever get hurt in a Spanish speaking country, how would you address a doctor? How do you say something hurts?”
Probasco enjoys collaborating with her coworkers in the world language department, from elementary level to the high school. Her AP students worked with the new elementary Spanish teachers Ashley Harris and Carmen Vega to develop a lesson for Village Elementary fourth and fifth grades before Christmas. The high school students visited the school and read cultural holiday books to the elementary students in Spanish.
Providing real world experiences for her students not only factors in a fun element but also provides various learning techniques. Some people have an affinity for languages while others struggle to learn another language. When a student has difficulty, Probasco retains her positive, encouraging outlook and says, “You don’t have the skills yet. You will learn. Everybody acquires.” She recognizes that “it’s really hard to measure how people acquire language, and so some people can acquire it really quickly. Some people, it just takes eons.” To approach the different learning styles, she brings to the classes many different modalities to tailor her instruction for maximum comprehension for everyone.
Probasco’s high school Spanish teacher Señora Gaston fueled her love of Spanish and the Spanish culture and influenced her to become a teacher. She says, “The one thing I learned from her was she knew what I was capable of when I couldn’t see what I was capable of, and so she held me accountable and held me to a standard that I didn’t even recognize myself, but that helped me attain.” Probasco says some of Gaston’s ideas find their way into her classes.
In fifth grade her school offered introductory classes in Spanish, French, and German which helped the students determine their foreign language choice for high school. During junior high school, a trip to Mexico and a month-long mission trip to Guatemala in high school added to the lure of Spanish.
Her experience on those trips may be the incentive for her upcoming extended student field trip. “I’m taking students on a trip to Spain in March for spring break. We’re going through an educational travel company, and it’s a 10-day trip throughout Spain to Madrid, San Sebastian where we used to live, and then Barcelona… so I have 19 students signed up. One of the French teachers and a history teacher will be coming on the trip.”
When school is not a focus, Probasco enjoys being with her family, walking on the beach and camping. Her three children, who were born in Spain, attend school near the high school: Leila (13), Miriam (11), and Curren (nine). She began teaching at CHS when her son Curren was in kindergarten. Her husband Chris, a native of Coronado, is a youth minister with the Christian organization Summer in the USA as the regional director for Portland, San Diego, and Birmingham, Alabama. The organization seeks to place foreign high school students in families for a month with local ministers overseeing the visits. Before becoming a mom, she worked alongside her husband in Spain.
Besides reading and enjoying her book club, Probasco lists cooking as a favorite activity and frequently experiments with new recipes; however, she still occasionally includes one seventh grade home economics recipe in her menus, which includes rainbow rotini pasta, sour cream, salt and garlic. “I’m part of an international cooking club, or Dinner International Potluck is what we call it.” Included in the group are friends from Argentina, Mexico, Peru, Spain, and Hungary; all live in Coronado. They meet every three months.
Probasco may well incorporate food in her future lesson plans as part of her vision to transfer her love and passion for the language to her students. “Honestly, Spanish changed my life. If you look at where I’m from in Minnesota, and my little suburban town, of parents that are not international travelers… It really impacted my life in such a positive way and opened doors.” An intense interest, a passion, can add that spark of excitement that travels to others and creates a new dimension to their lives.
VOL. 113, NO. 5 - Feb. 1, 2023
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