Second Grade Teacher Vera Benjelloun is a vibrant bundle of energy. According to her, she embodies the quote, “life is too short and the world is wide!” Born and raised in the Philippines, her dream of becoming a teacher started with her second grade teacher. When Vera mentioned that she liked to play “school” and teach her brothers on the weekends, her teacher gave her a box of chalk to encourage her. Word of her dynamic lessons soon turned her little outdoor classroom into a summer school for the neighborhood children. With books from the library and good role models as guides, her “school” was a success. Why? Because she engaged her students with the type of things she loved to do. Keeping her inner child alive and infusing that spirit into her teaching keeps her students inspired and captivated throughout the day. Her greatest satisfaction comes from delivering a lesson and hearing them exclaim, “I get it!” She admits to sometimes making mistakes, but they can be forgiving. One of her classes burst into the refrain from Britney Spears’ song, “Oops, I Did It Again.” Vera considers teaching children on four different continents for the past 36 years her greatest accomplishment. In her free time, she loves traveling to see family and friends in different parts of the world. Vera plays the guitar, enjoys creating interactive lessons, and to relax, she enjoys watching T.V., listening to music, and washing the dishes—yes, dishes. She adores the Beatles, jiving to smooth jazz, and decompressing with acoustic music. She loves American and British crime shows and period dramas, but for fun, she binge-watches subtitled Korean dramas—as many as eight to 10 episodes in one sitting!
What is your greatest strength? Being open-minded.
If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be and why or what would you do with it? I’d like to be able to read music to play as many musical instruments as I can, especially the bass guitar. I want to be as good as Paul McCartney. I can dream…
What do you love most about your life? My husband and daughter. I relish having married someone from a different background and religion and how we get along!
What in life makes you smile? Breathtaking views and puppies.
What is something one of your parents said that you will never forget? Whatever is worth doing, is worth doing well.
What is one of your favorite things to do in the classroom or as part of your job at the school? Dancing with the children and refereeing second grade soccer on the turf field.