Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



Teacher of the Month: Marlon Henriquez

12-09 teacher henriquez kk.jpg
Gage Elementary School kindergartners Ruben Castro, Clayton O'Neill and Kourtney Haugen listen to Spanish immersion teacher Marlon Henriquez during a lesson. Henriquez is the December Teacher of the Month.

Marlon Henriquez, a kindergarten teacher at Gage Elementary School, is the Post-Bulletin's Teacher of the Month for November. He is a teacher in the Spanish Immersion Program at Gage.

His nominator explains: "Because he is teaching 5- and 6-year-olds who have no previous exposure to Spanish, he uses any means possible to convey his message. He dances, sings, acts out his words, and uses the latest technology to fully engage his students. After being in class for only two months, the children already understand most of what is being said and they are beginning to speak Spanish flawlessly."

Name:Marlon Henriquez

Family:Mother, Rosa; father: Jovy; brother, Blake; sister, Karen.

School/grade:Gage Elementary School in Rochester, kindergarten (Spanish immersion)


Home town:Las Chinamas, El Salvador / Decorah, Iowa

What is the best or favorite part of your day?

I love the start of my day and I believe it is the most important part of the day. Every morning

each student gives me a hug when they walk into class. After students eat breakfast and finish

their morning work, we sit in a circle together and I ask them a question of the day. It's a great

way to get to know each one of them more and it creates an environment of positivity,

friendship and love. The morning is so important because it shows my students what the rest

of their day is going to be like. If I am able to make them feel safe and excited for the day, my


students will have a fantastic day and continue learning to love school.

What or who inspired you to become a teacher?

No one in my family has ever received more than an eighth-grade education. My parents always

reminded me of how lucky I was to be able to go to high school and eventually, college. This

made me appreciate and respect education, and I knew I wanted to be involved in providing this

life-changing gift my whole life. If my parents had not moved me to the United States, I would

not have received the opportunity of education, and therefore I would not have discovered my

true self and talents. I am particularly inspired by teaching in an immersion classroom, because


I went through a similar experience when I first went to school. My first language is Spanish,

and I did not know any English when I started kindergarten in Postville, Iowa. I remember the

process of language learning being very difficult, but also rewarding, because I eventually

became bilingual. As a result, I owe a lot to the field of education and my parents, who are my


What is one thing you want your students to retain from their days with you?

I want my students to learn how to love school. When a student loves school, they are more

likely to stay in school, which will help them pursue whatever their dreams may be. Every day I


try my best to create a positive atmosphere in my classroom that helps my students want to

come back the next day. After my students leave my classroom and move up to the next grade,

I hope they feel excitement and enthusiasm for going to school.

Do you have a teaching philosophy?

I believe intelligence is something that is gained. No matter how prepared my students are

when they come into my classroom, through hard work, they have the potential to learn more

about themselves, their communities, and the world. My goal is to enable my students to

understand the value of having a strong work ethic. Anything can be accomplished through


hard work. I will always remember that each and every student in my classroom is a capable

learner, all I have to do is give him/her the tools and confidence to learn.

What is the most memorable thing that's happened in your classroom?

One of the most memorable things this year has been watching my students' faces light up

when they realize that they're able to read. Helping a student become excited and invested in

reading will eventually help them love to read. Loving to read is the key to succeeding in their

futures. It's really rewarding to see the hard work from our classroom and at home with parents pay



What is the Spanish Immersion Program?

The Spanish Immersion Program is in its second year at Gage. I teach one of the two Spanish

Immersion kindergarten classes. There are also two first-grade classrooms that are Spanish

Immersion. Next year, the program will grow larger by adding two second-grade classrooms. In

our Spanish immersion classrooms, we use the same curriculum as all of the other kindergarten

classrooms in Rochester. The only difference is that we teach everything in Spanish. Most of

our students come into our classrooms without knowing any Spanish. It's incredible to witness

language learning in our Spanish Immersion classrooms. The three other Spanish Immersion

teachers at Gage (Vanessa Stensgard, Katie Schieve in first grade, and Karen Hogg in

kindergarten) and I agree that parents who have invested in having their child be part of the

Spanish immersion program are helping their son/daughter become an overall more culturally

competent global citizen.

What To Read Next
Get Local