Teacher Spotlight: Mrs. Gruneich

Audrey Miller, Features Editor

Mrs. Gruneich, the sky-diving, volleyball playing, sushi eating Spanish teacher from room B116 is one of the most interesting educators Joliet West has to offer. Living in Spain for quite some time, Mrs. Gruneich was given an opportunity to observe the Spanish culture, all the while enrolling in classes and learning to speak the language. Because of her vast knowledge in such topics, Mrs. Gruneich is able to productively teach her Spanish classes, all the while sharing bits and pieces of her adventure to give students a broader understanding of the country itself. As a student of Mrs. Gruneich’s Spanish 2 class, I came to realize that she is not only a fun person to be around, but she makes learning fun as well. For those who have not yet had her as a teacher or for those who are new to her class this year, expect to participate in a lot of hands on learning, class activities, and educational games. Get ready to enjoy her mad cooking skills when she gives insight on the different cuisines of Spain, and don’t be shocked when she doesn’t give you homework. Some words of advice from Mrs. Gruneich herself: always remember to call her by her rightful name. Mrs. G, Senorita G, and G-Unit will not be acceptable!

Q: How much Spanish did you know before deciding to live in Spain?

A: When I decided to study and live abroad in Madrid, I only knew the basics, like my name, where I was from, and how to ask someone general questions. I was able to read and write a bit more, but as far as speaking Spanish, I was not able to speak without thinking about what I was going to say first.

Q: Did you experience a “culture shock”? If so, how did you cope with day to day life?

A: The first month was a culture shock in many ways. First off, the family that I lived with did not speak any English, so it was difficult communicating with them. Also, the daily schedule was different then what I had been used to. Meal times were later in the day and the food/meals were all new to me. After the first month, I started to feel more and more at ease and at home.

Q: You mentioned you lived with a family. How was that experience?

A: They were incredible people! I loved living with them because they included me in all their family vacations and birthdays, and even introduced me to the Spanish culture. My “Senora”, or host mom, taught me how to make authentic Spanish recipes like paella, tortilla Espanola, and sangria. I also had three little “brothers” that were studying English, so we had so much fun trying to talk to one another. I really could not have had a better family to live with!

Q: What kind of schooling did you receive in Spain?

A: I attended La Universidad Compultense, Madrid. I studied there for seven months and took a Spanish Linguistics course, Conversational Spanish, Spanish Grammar, and Spanish Literature course. My classmates were from all over the world and our professors were all Spaniards, who spoke very quickly and demanded a lot from us.

Q: How would you describe the overall journey?

A: Looking back at my time abroad, I never could have anticipated all of the life lessons and additional experiences that I had while I lived in Spain. There were many opportunities to travel throughout Spain as well as other European countries, and I made sure to take advantage and go on every trip! I would recommend everyone to study abroad and set time and money aside for travel.

Q: What got you interested in learning the Spanish language and eventually becoming an instructor?

A: During high school I had a very good Spanish teacher who made language learning fun and easy. She also taught us about the cultural aspects of Spanish speaking countries. After her classes I always wanted to know another language fluently and travel abroad.

Q: Why don’t you give any homework?

A: Language learning is an active process that students learn in the classroom via participation and TPR (Total Physical Response) stories. I stress at the beginning of the year that students must be an active member in the classroom in order to develop their language skills, and earn their Spanish grade.

Q: You mentioned in the beginning of the year that you went sky diving eight times! What’s the story?

A: I made my first jump when I was in Spain and it was so much fun! It was such a rush! I have only done tandem jumps so far; which is when a professional sky diver is attached to you and they are responsible for pulling the rip cord!

 *(On September 26th, Mrs. Gruneich will be participating in a marathon! The race will start in Moline, and she will run throughout the Quad Cities! Come out and show some support!)