Camas High School’s new Spanish one and four teacher, Jill Cuellar, lived in Spain for five years. She spent her time teaching English to children, ranging from toddlers to teenagers. This played a big role in her love for the Spanish language
She is CHS´s newest addition in the foreign language department for the 2020-2021 school year. Prior to coming to CHS, Cuellar taught Spanish in the Evergreen District at HeLa High School for six years.
Having the opportunity to live in Spain makes her different from many foreign language teachers. Not only is she familiar with the language, but she also experienced the culture. She was fluent in Spanish before living there, so she is bilingual. She took this opportunity to teach young adults English in Spain. Now, that she’s back in the United States and teaching at CHS, she is taking a similar opportunity by teaching Spanish to native English speakers.
Before she took on the role of teaching, Cuellar played a role in working with Apple. She knew her way around technology and had experience with people. Working with Apple, advanced her social skills and technical skills in many ways. She worked on the Genius bar as a support tech. As a part of her job, she taught classes that represented how to use certain devices. Not only did this educate those who
needed it, but it helped improve Apple’s sales. Although her environment at Apple was far different than her new one at CHS, her purpose remains the same, to continue to educate and spread knowledge.
In 2014, Cuellar completed her teaching credential in the state of California and began the transition into her new career path. She has always loved the Spanish language and her passion for it began to spark. Her past experiences with her own high school teachers made a big impact on how she teaches. One teacher from her past happened to be her language teacher.
“He was so welcoming and helpful,” She said.
His classroom was not like your typical school environment. It was a safe space that allowed students to learn productively and enjoy it. She enjoyed his way of teaching and has now used some of his techniques in her classroom. She strives to be the kind of teacher that listens to her students’ opinions and needs. Cuellar tries to see where students are coming from and understand that they have a life outside of school that can affect them in the classroom.
CHS Associate Principal Brian Wilde was on the board that hired Cuellar.
He said, “I knew that Mrs. Cuellar was the right candidate for CHS because she was unanimously supported by both our student and staff interview teams. Both recognized her supportive and positive engagement through the interview questions and the online Spanish lesson. She demonstrated deep care and interest in seeing all students learn and grow in Spanish.”
Students commented on what an outstanding addition Cuellar has been.
CHS junior Melodie Chiu said, “Through all technological challenges we have had this year, Señora Cuellar has done a great job navigating unexpected obstacles over our Zoom classes!”
CHS senior Austin Ye added, “I really do enjoy being in Sra. Cuellar’s class, as I love how flexible she is. She is always open to listen to student’s opinions and is always accepting and asking for feedback on how her virtual teaching is.”
Cuellar is different from most teachers. Having a previous teaching background in Spain and at Evergreen helped her prepare for a similar role at CHS. She has a great attitude and is eager to help students learn with her fun and laid back class environment. She wants students to know that she is a human too, and if you need someone to talk to she is here and available. Cuellar teaches because it is her passion, but her classroom is more than that. She is open to new ideas, perspectives, and people.
Camasonian journalists Keilee Siefer, Rose Hinchliff, Shae Lavoie, and Blake Bell contributed to this article.