Heritage Spanish speaker pursues teaching career in Spanish


Melanie Rivera-Cortez

Alondra Aguilera sorts through papers at North High. Aguilera student-taught for Spanish teacher Alyssa Rumple.

When Alondra Aguilera was a little girl, she would play teacher with her sister, using a whiteboard they owned. She knew then that she wanted to be a teacher. 

Aguilera started at Wichita State to be a music teacher in 2020 but quickly realized that it was not for her. 

“I liked it more as a hobby or something I just like to do in my own free time,” Aguilera said. 

At the end of the fall of 2020, she switched her major to Spanish because she wanted to keep practicing her Spanish and kept music as a minor. 

“I’m a heritage speaker, so my parents come from Mexico and I’ve been speaking it my whole life. It was my first language,” Aguilera said. 

Aguilera said she’s excited to introduce students to the Spanish language and hopes that they will want to continue learning it. 

Right now, she student-teaches at Wichita North High School, helping students with their Spanish. She will begin teaching in Truesdell Middle School students in the fall. 

“I like to interact with students seeing that I was there once, and I learned a lot,” Aguilera said. “When you see them (be) like, ‘Oh, I understand that,’ it’s so exciting.” 

Aguilera said she is excited and scared to teach middle school.

“I’ve only really worked with sixth graders in the past last semester with student teaching, but I’m excited to kind of get to know how younger students work, it is a little bit scary,” Aguilera said.

Alyssa Rumple, a Spanish teacher at North High, said Aguilera started at North High this semester. Over the last three weeks, Aguilera has taught Rumple’s class.

“She’s the best student teacher I’ve ever had,” Rumple said. 

From creating learning games to monitoring students’ progress, Rumple said Aguilera has made sure that students get the help that they need.

“I don’t know if it’s a change from the program at WSU being more active in terms of the Spanish department and research and research pedagogy, but she’s just all around just a good person,” Rumple said. 

Aguilera will be one of the few people within her family to receive a degree in higher education. 

“It is a very proud moment to be one of the only ones in my whole even extended family to have graduated college,” Aguilera said. 

After getting a few years of teaching under her belt, Aguilera hopes to pursue a master’s – possibly in counseling. 

“I do a lot of work with just the Latino community,” Aguilera said. “Being bilingual, being able to (counsel) in both English and Spanish is really important.”

Aguilera said that being vice president of the Hispanic American Leadership Organization has also helped her connect to Latino and Hispanic community at Wichita State.

Being vice president allowed her to help connect Latino and Hispanic students on campus and helped out with making the first baile (dance) on campus.

“Two students were able to get scholarships from their participation and being able to help students navigate through college was a full circle moment for me,” Aguilera said. 

Aguilera said that she is looking forward to helping students out while teaching and is open to teaching any grade level.

“I’m just excited to teach anyone Spanish. It’s really fun,” Aguilera said.