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Spanish teacher Alisa Conner has explored many Spanish-speaking countries and connects her travels to her class. She has chaperoned high school trips as well, such as the Mexico trip three years ago and the Spain trip last year.

Teacher Feature: Alisa Conner

Spanish teacher and alumni Alisa Conner ‘90 comforts her students, telling them it’s okay to make a mistake, and her students feel engaged and willing to participate.

Conner has had many experiences in Spanish-speaking countries and is busy in and out of her classroom. She’s had the opportunity to study abroad in South and Central America to explore many countries.

“I went to Chile my entire junior year. The first half was a study abroad program and the second half, I actually stayed by myself and kind of did some research that turned into a project that I got a credit for so I could still graduate on time,” Conner said. “That was an intense year, {a} lot of learning and staying by myself.”

Later she did a study abroad program in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala. Conner has also chaperoned some of the high school sponsored trips to Spanish-speaking countries. She went on the Mexico trip three years ago and then the Spain trip last year.  She has also spent a month in the summer in Spain on her own time through a Brookline Education Foundation grant. She chose to visit Grenada and still uses many of the pictures she took in her classes.

Conner also has gotten involved in the union for contract-fighting and strongly values teaching autonomy and teacher creativity. She defends this because it best serves the students.

“I do feel like there is kind of a push in this country for corporate-ed reform and for people who don’t actually teach in the classroom and telling teachers what to do and what success looks like,” Conner said.  

Although teaching Spanish is hard work, she enjoys it, which makes it fun for students.

“It’s like the kindergarten of high school because we can do music, movement and play games,” Conner said.

Her students enjoy her teaching style too.

“Ms. Conner is a really good teacher and explains things really well and she makes class really fun,” freshman Caroline Wolff said. “Last year, we went through the units really fast and our old teacher was really disorganized, but this year we get a lot done in a really short amount of time, but we understand what we are doing.”

When she was in high school, Conner was part of School-Within-a-School (SWS) and because of it she feels that the  transition from student to teacher was made easier

“It felt already that I had the experience here of calling teachers by their first names, and a collaborative relationship,” Conner said.

She was also in the first year of a class similar to the Social Justice class at the high school.

“It was two blocks a day, F and G block,” Conner said. “The AIDS crisis was at a peak then so it was all about that. A little bit of science, but a lot of social science. As students, it was a small seminar style so we did research, we led the class, we went on field trips. There was a class for a lot of years called Good Citizen, Good Society which was modeled on that.”

She said it was really empowering to have a say in her own learning, including being given the freedom to discuss important topics that she really cared about.

Conner finds teaching rewarding because of the invaluable experiences she has had with her students and colleagues alike.

“Teaching is so fun,” Conner said. “It is really hard work, and I spend a lot of time, but I have really great colleagues. I have had personal challenges and the community has really been there for me.”


An earlier version of this article misspelled “Conner” as “Connor.”

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