Paoli High School was fortunate enough to have former Spanish teacher Rachel Carter teach students for 32 years. Every end brings a new beginning, and in this case, it brought new Spanish teacher Crystal Shellenberger.
“When I heard Señora Carter was retiring, I knew the position would be difficult to fill. I loved teaching fourth graders at Throop, but I felt excited about doing something new. I have loved learning about language and cultures since I was a teenager,” said Shellenberger.
Shellenberger attended Goshen College where she participated in a semester abroad, called study-service term (SST), in Costa Rica.
“I had a great experience living with a Costa Rican family, studying Spanish and working with a speech pathologist in the beautiful mountains of Alajuela, Costa Rica. I knew I wanted to continue learning about the Spanish language and diverse cultures of Central America,” said Shellenberger.
After Shellenberger married her husband, Jon, they teamed up with a church organization doing community development work in a small town called La Ceiba in El Salvador, Central America.
“We experienced amazing hospitality and generosity during the three years we lived there. We even had one-on-one language teachers in both Guatemala City and San Salvador for the first several months before starting our work. There were definitely challenges like homesickness and cultural differences that took a while to get used to, but it was a really important time in our lives,” said Shellenberger.
During the summer of 2018, Shellenberger and her family spent six weeks in Puerto Rico working for the Mennonite Disaster Service.
“We organized groups of North American volunteers to work on reconstruction projects in Utuado, Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Jon led the building projects, and I worked as the office manager, translator and part time cook! I thoroughly enjoyed being back in the Latin American culture and introducing my kids to a different way of life. They enjoyed knocking fresh mangoes down from trees, eating passion fruit off the vines and going to the ocean every weekend,” said Shellenberger.
Shellenberger looks forward to sharing photos, stories and the Spanish language with her students.
Story by Gracie Walls