Fifteen Spaniards are in Iowa on temporary visas, teaching Iowa school kids how to speak Spanish. John Scott of the Iowa Department of Education makes a yearly trip to Spain to interview recruits, as there aren’t enough qualified Spanish teachers here.
“I get a call or calls in the beginning of the school year where districts are desperate to find someone,” Scott says. “We are competing nationally and internationally for every single teaching position that we need to fill.”
There are more than 1300 Spanish language teachers in Iowa. Marco Bermudez of Cordoba, Spain, teaches in West Liberty. He chose to take a job in Iowa because of a childhood experience.
“I saw a movie called, ‘Fields of Dreams’, and in that movie they say, ‘Is this Iowa? No, it’s heaven.’ So I wanted to know about the heaven,” Cordoba says. “I wanted to know about Iowa.”
West Liberty has 13 teachers on staff leading classes in Spanish. Cordoba and two others are Spanish citizens.
“The most important difficulties we found — you think you know English, but when you coming here you have to realize you don’t know nothing,”
Bermudez says. Bermudez and his wife — who teaches preschool in West Liberty — are nearing the end of their three-year visas.
“They like it here. We like them here,” says West Liberty Superintendent Steve Hanson. “It’s just been very much a blessing.”
School officials are exploring a sponsorship option which might let the Spanish couple stay in Iowa, and on the West Liberty teaching staff.