Learning a second language has been a life-long pursuit for Karen Cordero. For the past 11 years, she has been inspiring students at Eagle River High School to learn Spanish, as well.

“It's been a joy to come to work and I'm very privileged that that's been the way that I get to talk about work,” said Cordero.

While kids typically have a set of rules to follow in the classroom, Cordero has a few she has imposed on herself. The biggest rule is to never be bored.

"I try every day to have something read, something listened to, something written and something spoken,” explained Cordero.

To keep herself and her students engaged, Cordero goes the non-traditional route. She has her students read biographies, watch Spanish-speaking TV shows and cook food from recipes that are solely in Spanish. This allows her students to learn more about the people who speak it and the cultures associated with it.

"Learning a second language opens kids to new ideas, new perspectives and new opportunities,” said Cordero.

Tenth-grader Ella Bryner, a student of Cordero’s, said she didn’t take Spanish voluntarily. Her parents “kind of forced me to.”

Today, Bryner is glad they did.

“Ms. Cordero, she's an amazing woman. She's an amazing friend,” explained Bryner. "For me, she's really broken the boundary between English and Spanish and how the world as a whole affects us.”

Other students praised Cordero for her outgoing and kind personality.

"Ms. Cordero is super happy all the time and super perky and projects that onto the Spanish class and the school,” explained eleventh-grader Emily Witte.

KTVA 11’s Teacher of the Week credits much of her success to the staff and administration at Eagle River High School. She said teachers there are encouraged to take risks, be innovative and bring new opportunities to their students.

Cordero said she hopes her kids ultimately learn to be confident and curious about the Spanish language and the world around them.

"When they're done I hope that they go out and explore the world, and have the courage to take on the opportunities that are presented to them and feel like they can accomplish and achieve anything.”

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