Since the doors at Valley Southwoods Freshman High School opened in the fall of 1997, Lisa Sobotka has been teaching ninth grade students the basic and finer points of the Spanish language.
Yet lest you think that after 15 years her job has become routine, guess again. Judging by her enthusiasm for her work, she treats each school year like it is her first.
“I like that the language stays constant, but I can continue to change the way I teach it to meet the needs of the students,” says Sobotka. “Students change every year, but ultimately learning is the focus, and I like being able to do everything I can to teach them.”
Sobotka credits the students, staff and administration at Valley Southwoods for allowing her to strive to be the best teacher she can be each year.
“The students here are phenomenal to work with,” she says. “I find their desire to learn and to have fun very energizing. It’s a joy to work with them. The staff is excellent to work with as well. We’re encouraged to collaborate and to try new things. I like that.”
During the 2011 – 2012 school year, Sobotka taught three sections each of Spanish I and II courses. She says that the difference between the two classes is discernible.
“In Spanish I, we learn how to describe our families. In Spanish II, we learn how to describe fashion and travel,” she says. “We see a wide range of abilities. Some students come to us without taking any Spanish classes during elementary or middle school, but the majority of them know their numbers, the days of the week and basic words.”
In the end, Sobotka says, it’s about preparing students to succeed in a global community that requires knowledge of a second language.
“It’s hard work, but it’s worth it,” she says.