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NATALIE JEW / SAGAMORE STAFF

Jani Rodrigues

Bilingual, dancer-actress, artist, “coffee-sniffer,” “tea sampler,” Jani Rodrigues is a Brookline High Spanish teacher. She’s been teaching for eleven years from Spain to New York and now in Massachusetts. She Flamencos and travels likes Fridays and ballet.

What made you want to teach, and why Spanish?

When I was young, I made friends with three sisters who moved next door to me from Puerto Rico. They didn’t know any English, and I didn’t know any Spanish, we played together a lot and were introduced to each other’s languages. It was my first cultural language exchange. I took Spanish in school and started taking more languages – I fell in love with languages. In terms of teaching, I used to go to Boys and Girls’ club – that was my thing. I had great experiences when I was young. And if you’re passionate about something go for it, live it fully – see where it takes you. I loved learning languages; I never knew that it would lead me to become a teacher.

What was it like teaching in Spain?

I taught five year olds to adults. In each age group it was just very satisfying. To help somebody accomplish whatever goals they had. And I loved the lifestyle there. It was very relaxed. People work hard; however the economy is not in a good condition, so it was just hard to stay and work. I love to travel and take vacations but I’ve been abroad for a while I’m from Boston so it’s nice to be back home.

What made you want to teach at Brookline High?

I knew it was a good school. My sister used to go to school here – loved it. My Uncle coached basketball here for twenty years. And I loved the idea of being in such a diverse community. The students are just so energetic and spunky. The teachers are quality stars – it’s a great place to be. However I have named white hairs after some of my students.

What was your high school experience like?

I went to high school at Boston Latin. It was a big school – like this as well – and very rigorous, lots of work, but I loved it. It was diverse, and coming from a small Catholic school it was really exciting. I was like, ‘I don’t have to wear my uniform.’ There was all sorts of people, lots of clubs – it reminds me of this environment but at the same time high academic standards.

What’s something you’ve always wanted to do?

I’d love to travel more. I’d love to make it to all the countries in South America, Central America, to go to Panamá. I want to get my French down, and then I want to get into Japanese. And just travel – go to India. I guess that would be my bucket list. I don’t really think that long-term. Whatever I feel like I’m into at the moment I go for it. I like a little bit of spontaneity.

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