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Teacher Profile: Mr. Espanta

Photo by Joleen Cardoza.

You know when you walk into school from the side gate, only to see a group of kids clustered around that second-floor bungalow, looking a little too excited to be at school? Yeah, that’s because they have Mr. Espanta. Before he was my teacher, I had heard all about his class and how many memories kids cherished from it. Now that I’m actually part of the class, I get what all the hype is about. With interesting lessons and engaging assignments, it’s hard not to love being there.

As I was thinking about which teacher I wanted to profile, Mr. Espanta immediately came to mind. Backed up by people who are, and have been his student, it’s evident that he’s favored across the board. So from me to you, here’s a profile of your favorite history teacher.

Hugo Espanta has been teaching at Eagle Rock High School for 12 YEARS. I’m surprised he’s put up with us for so long. He has been interested in history for a while and states he got into it by reading the Bible book of Daniel. He says, “I wanted to prove that what I was reading was historically correct,” and so, he did just that. With research about different places around the world, he was able to piece together ideas that he hadn’t quite explored before. Over time, history, and humans in history, became a fascination.

As a student who currently takes his class, let me tell you, the energy in there is HIGH. The way that Mr. Espanta teaches is full of wonder and true excitement about the material, and subsequently, that makes us students excited. I really wanted to find out where all of his passion comes from, and how someone can be so invested. “I'm passionate about history because, through it, we discover who we and other people are,” he says. “History allows us to see where we come from and how to be better people and make a better world.” I honestly think it’s amazing how much this makes sense. Mr. Espanta knows how to teach so you can apply it to your own life, so you can really understand. History makes our world, and it’s important to learn that. “Through history, we're able to understand each other's differences and yet collaborate to build new, stronger communities,” he finishes.

Although he likes history now, he wasn’t always a big fan of the subject. Mr. Espanta says that his favorite subjects when he was a kid were math and PE. He originally thought that he was going to be a math teacher, but when his counselor told him what courses he had to take to make that happen, he said, “I knew I should have gone with history in the first place.”

From his own experiences, he says he is is able to teach in the most efficient, (and captivating) way to his students. He says that his favorite lesson to teach is the American West, explaining that he loves talking about the resilience of the Native Americans in that time. How they had a caring and kind relationship with the environment, and how it can be a symbol of healing. “The American West is seen as a place of starting new and adventure which I feel that's where I am in life,” he adds, “Looking for ways to improve my instruction and seeking the next adventure.”

Speaking of adventure, outside of the classroom, Mr. Espanta has gone on many adventures of his own. An enthusiastic traveler, he has visited some breathtaking corners of the world. “...I try to visit places that are different from what I'm used to and landscapes that are unique to a specific area,” he says, mentioning that one of his favorite places he has visited was China. Through his travel, he says he’s able to expand on his knowledge, and learn about people from different places through time. Some of his favorite experiences include the Mogao caves that opened a window into the world of the silk road, and his camel ride into the Crescent Moon Oasis at Dunhuang, (which is quite stunning, here’s a picture of it below.)

Crescent Moon Oasis. Image by Time Magazine.

Traveling is one of the few ways Mr. Espanta connects with his outside curiosities, but he also has a few hobbies. When he is not teaching or traveling, Mr. Espanta says he likes to practice, “The 3 R's: read, run, and relax.” I honestly think this is a good way to use your free time. “Most of my books are nonfiction or simply brushing up on a topic I haven't read about,” he says. As for the second R, he says that he runs to enjoy nature's beauty. “The wind in my face, the beautiful sunset, and the various colors and smells of the season.” He adds that he relaxes by watching sports and shows.

So, there you have it. If you have ever taken Mr. Espanta’s class, or you are planning to, I hope you got something from learning about him! The next time you walk by that bungalow and get a glimpse of the “have no fear Mr. Espanta is here” poster, with the “no” crossed out, you’ll know what’s going on in there.

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