BLACKFOOT – Blackfoot High School (BHS) Spanish teacher Paula Maldonado loves her job.
“I say it’s the best job in the world,” Maldonado said.
“Not one day’s the same,” she said. “There are a lot of eager students who want to learn Spanish and work hard.”
Maldonado has been teaching 13 years. The first three years, she was taught English as a Second Language (ESL) in the Blackfoot Sixth Grade School and Mountain View Middle School. For the past decade, she has taught straight Spanish classes to Blackfoot High School students.
Because Spanish is an elective class, students voluntarily sign up for it.
“I teach some of these kids for four years,” she said. “They are kind of like your kids.”
Maldonada teaches Spanish to 200 to 250 students each year.
She teaches Spanish 1, 2, 3 and 4. Grade level 3 and 4 are taught as dual enrollment classes. Grade level 3 is Spanish 101 at Idaho State University, Maldonada said.
“It takes six solid years if working on Spanish more than one hour each day to become fluent in the language,” she said. “Immersion is the best—living temporarily some place where the person is forced to speak it.”
Are you fluent?
“I can read, write and speak in Spanish and English,” she said.
Maldonado and her husband, Israel, have been married 27 years. They have three children. Their daughters, Alejandra and Anabel, have both graduated from BHS. Alejandra earned her bachelor’s degree from Carroll College in Helena, Mont., in 2008 and is currently working on her doctorate in wildlife toxicology at Texas A&M.
Anabel is a student at the College of Idaho in Caldwell.
Their son, Gabriel, is a junior at BHS.
Maldonado’s hobby is reading which she does in both Spanish and English. She likes fiction books written by Chilean-born author Isabel Allende. Allende has lived the past 20 years in the San Francisco area; she became a U.S. citizen in 2003.
Allende has written 18 books, both fiction and non-fiction. Her books have been translated into 28 languages.
Allende writes, “I’m always willing to open up my life and my heart because I believe that generally it is not the truth exposed that makes one vulnerable but the secrets one keeps….I am aware of how much we all have in common.”