Excitement begins to build up as the sound of wheels is heard rolling on the pavement outside. The wheels stroll past the lower-level playground, past many Tularcitos Bobcats, and to the upper-level where many others await the arrival of Señora. When the sound of those wheels abruptly stops, and the classroom door creaks, silence fills the room. Through the door appears a cart full of puppets, books, and music, along with a welcoming “Buenos días.”
With a passion to teach, a positive vibe, and endless amounts of energy, Diane Colon, referred to as Señora by over 200 Tularcitos Bobcats, teaches a Spanish program that she began eight years ago.
“Students learn Spanish by having fun,” observes Marilyn Croswhite, whom Señora shares a classroom with.
Señora does not focus on teaching grammar or giving challenging lessons. Instead, she carries an iPod with Spanish songs for almost every occasion.
“The children love the music and they all dance, especially with the puppets,” says Colon excitedly.
She enjoys music and enjoys watching the students learn to appreciate a different culture.
The students make chocolate caliente, tortillas, salsa, pan de muerto, and rosca de reyes. They even break piñatas at the end of the year.
Besides teaching Spanish, Señora organizes assemblies where the students perform Spanish songs that they have learned.
“It’s hard to organize, but it’s fun,” Señora says. “It’s really really fun!”
Señora cares a lot for her students and makes sure that they are happy in the classroom while learning.
“Mrs. Colon creates a very engaging learning environment for the students where she gets students to be Spanish speakers, not just learn Spanish,” says Ryan Peterson, the principal at Tularcitos Elementary School.
By the end of fifth grade, Señora’s students will have learned the basics of Spanish 1, but without the grammar.
However, they will have excellent accents because they will have practiced the language from a very young age.
Eight years ago, Señora began the Spanish program for the elementary level, which was what the board members of the Carmel Unified School District were in search of.
“It’s hard to develop a program from scratch; we had nothing,” Colon says.
However, now this program has grown extensively and numerous students have continued learning the Spanish language at Carmel Middle School.
“Developing relationships with the students is the most rewarding part of my job,” says the Spanish teacher happily. “Every year I see them, they give me hugs and our relationships get stronger and stronger because they’ve known me their whole life at Tular.”
Besides working with children in the classroom, Señora is involved in much more.
“Diane is also dedicated to assisting Spanish-speaking families through providing translation services and constantly creating opportunities to deepen their connection with Tularcitos School and the district as a whole,” says Marvin Biasotti, the Superintendent of the Carmel Unified School District. “She is frequently involved in organizing activities that extend learning into the community.”
Señora has spread her insights and knowledge in various places. Señora is also an Online Speed Reading and Comprehension instructor at Cabrillo College.
In the past, Señora was a kindergarten teacher, an English as a Second Language teacher, and later an ESL resource teacher. She taught both ESL and Spanish at a French International School.
“It’s all fun,” Señora says when asked about all the different jobs she has had. “You have to enjoy your life.”
Señora was also a reading specialist at Juan Cabrillo Elementary School and a Spanish teacher at All Saints Day Middle School. Señora has even taught ESL at Hartnell College and taught adults how to teach English abroad.
“Adults are fun to teach,” Señora Colon says. “It was super fun.”
She continued her online class and was later hired at Tularcitos.
“This is actually the longest time I’ve been in a job; I’m lucky to have this job,” the Spanish teacher says.
Now that she has children attending Carmel Unified Schools and a stable job, she plans to stay at Tularcitos Elementary School.