Spanish Changed This Teacher’s Life

By: Faith Graceffa

Spanish teacher Senora Tucknott has traveled to 25 countries, many with Spanish as the primary language, and has worked with multiple nonprofits to improve the lives of people in poverty. She helped start Español En Acción — a service-learning course that allows students to learn about global issues and work with nonprofit organizations — and the Spanish AP program at Oak Creek High School.

On her first international trip with the school, Tucknott traveled with her students to Peru. They not only explored the beauty of the country, but also got involved with the Sacred Valley Project. The Sacred Valley Project helps teenage girls living in remote communities in the mountain regions of the Sacred Valley commute to school.

“They don’t have access to schools, so they have to travel like two hours by foot each way to get to school,” Tucknott explained. “Parents have to decide between putting their daughters in danger every single day or not getting them the education they need.”

The project built dorms near a high school and provided the girls with transportation, food, tutors, internet access, and school supplies. 

“We helped create a garden so that they could have a sustainable food source while living in these dorms,” Tucknott stated.

Tucknott is very proud of the impact her class had on these girls’ lives.

“Without the Sacred Valley Project and the service our group did, these girls wouldn’t go beyond sixth grade. And that just means so much to their life and their safety,” she said.

The second trip she is going on with students is to the Dominican Republic and will be another service trip.

“I’m excited about that one. I think it’s going to be really neat,” exclaimed Tucknott. “We get to really work with the community in the mountain range. A rural mountain village, which is just something that’s so different than Oak Creek, so I think the students will get a different perspective than what they see on the daily here.” 

She travels the world a lot with her family. Her husband shares her love for travel and their kids have been traveling abroad with them since they were less than a year old.

One of her most memorable trips was to Embera, an indigenous village of Panama.

 “There’s no technology, just everything is living off the land on the daily, and everybody in the community has a job for everybody in the community,” Tucknott recalled with awe. “So certain people cook for the whole community. The young teenage boys, it’s their job to fish for the whole community and they’d go spear fish every afternoon to feed everybody.” 

This school year she is running the Spanish Club, which is participating in the Wisconsin-Nicaragua Partners of the Americas Bike/Hike Event. Miles walked or biked are recorded to raise awareness and funds for humanitarian projects in Nicaragua. Students in Spanish 4 will also write children’s books for the Lending Libraries project.

“To do something and be a part of something so impactful is awesome,” Tucknott said.

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