The Road to Becoming a Spanish Teacher

How Jennifer McDonald decided to teach Spanish.


Jennifer McDonald with her son Mack. Photo courtesy Jennifer McDonald.

Erynn Alvernaz, Journalist

Jennifer McDonald, a Spanish teacher at Gainesville High school, participated in James Madison University’s exchange program at Salamanca, one of the world’s four oldest universities.  

In Spain, where Salamanca is located, they have a different, more relaxed life. They even take a legally allotted rest time in the middle of the day. Classes start at 9 a.m. and go until 12 p.m. Then, you get to go home, eat lunch, rest, go back to school from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., and then you go back home.  

“You’re going to class and going to class and seeing all of these maps, these historical  documents. It’s just fascinating.” McDonald said. 

McDonald’s family all went to Penn State University, so she wanted to go to a school with a smaller campus, a class of twenty-five kids, and for her teachers to know her name and to know her as a person. Even though choosing her type of college was easy, that doesn’t mean choosing her profession was an easy decision. 

 “So, my dad is in business, and my entire family are either doctors or teachers. My dad’s kind of the exception.” McDonald said.  

McDonald decided on an international business major with a minor in Spanish since she’d already taken five years of Spanish and loved it. After taking an advanced statistics course though, she decided to switch her major to a foreign language.  

“I called my mom, and I think she was about to kill me, but I changed my major in the first week of school.” McDonald said. 

At first, she thought about taking Italian and French, however, she continued with Spanish. McDonald’s father asked her what she wanted to do, and she said that she wanted to be a teacher since she could always have a job and provide for her family that way.  McDonald got used to her Spanish, saying teaching was where she was supposed to be.