Empire High School's Kristen Maurer makes learning Spanish fun - Tucson News Now

Empire High School's Kristen Maurer makes learning Spanish fun, interactive

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VAIL, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

For the past eight weeks Tucson News Now has been introducing Tucson to some of the most talented and hardworking teachers here in Southern Arizona. 

The last finalist in our Teacher Tributes takes us to Spanish 101 at Empire High School.  While learning a language can be tough it's not in Kristen Maurer's class. 

"It's the first class I've had that you have to communicate with others and you speak a lot," said Moira Petrie, a sophomore in one of Maurer's classes. 

Spanish One is very interactive at Empire High School; Maurer uses what she calls the TPR teacher method.  TPR stands for Total Physical Response; essentially the technique is used to get the kids to learn the vocabulary and act it out.  By the looks of it, it seems to be working.

"I really love working with my students this year," said Maurer.  "It's so easy to engage them and I love how much they're willing to participate." 

"The stories that we write we use a lot of creativity to come up with stuff and I think that's what helps us remember things a lot," said Courtney Crownheart, a junior.  

Of course she wants her students to continue learning Spanish, her class is just an introduction to the language.  So she makes it fun.  But many students already get how important Spanish is to Southern Arizona.

"I'll probably continue because of where I live and it's useful to be bilingual in Tucson," continued Moira Petrie.  

Not just in Tucson though, Maurer talks to them about how being bilingual can create so many opportunities in a future career.

"I just love seeing the growth the students make over the year because they start out in the beginning of the year not knowing any Spanish at all and by the end I get to see that progress that they've made with the language," said Maurer.

She has been teaching Spanish at Empire High School for seven years.  Maurer says she grew up always loving Spanish and she says she truly has made her passion a career. 

This Friday Maurer will join the rest of the Teacher Tribute finalists for an awards banquet at the University of Arizona. 

We will let you know who takes home the Circle-K Teacher of the Year Award.

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