New teacher starts career in a new country


It’s everyone’s dream to travel the world and explore new places; we always say ‘live in the moment’, but it’s rare to find anyone who actually does. Imagine packing up and moving away from everything you know, everything that you have known since you were a child and leaving your family, friends, and life behind. For Spanish teacher Ms. Lugo Zayas, this is her reality. She used to live in Bayamón, Puerto Rico and moved here for her job at West Springfield High School. So far she has brought joy to her co-workers and students. “She is really nice and understanding and she explains [Spanish] well,” said Spanish I student, Saltanat Aldabayeva. Ms. Lugo Zayas graduated from the University of Puerto Rico in December and started looking for jobs in Western Mass as well as Puerto Rico. “One of the interviews [for West Springfield High School] was through Skype. It was really fun, it was a really good experience,” said Ms. Lugo. She was actually interviewed for a full time substitute position, but about a week after the interview the school called her and told her that the position for a Spanish teacher had just opened up. For Ms. Lugo Zayas this was one of the most exciting experiences in her life. “I got the phone call that I was the person for the job on Friday and I took a plane and moved on Monday without saying goodbye to my family, without saying goodbye to my friends, I didn’t even say goodbye to my bestfriend. To this day I haven’t said goodbye to anyone. Hopefully on Christmas if I go back I’ll say oh yeah, goodbye!” Living life with no regrets is Ms. Lugo’s mantra. She could not stress enough the importance of living life to its fullest.

There are things that you don’t do because you’re afraid- these things will test you mentally, test you emotionally, and will test you in many ways that will make you grow.

She is very proud of the fact that she pushes herself even though it is sometimes hard. She claims that she does it because it makes her feel like she’s growing as a person, that she’s not stuck. “I like to push myself, even though I cry, even though I have to move, even though I’m alone, my mom and dad- they’re not here anymore,” she said with a bittersweet tone. She definitely exemplifies the motto, ‘life life so you can’t ask what if?’ In her life, Ms. Lugo has gone on many adventures to different countries. “I love traveling,” she said with a huge smile. She’s been to Alaska, Florida, Massachusetts, Washington, New York City, Cancun, Panama, Dominican Republic, all of the Caribbean Islands, Spain, England, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy. She also studied abroad and lived in France for a semester while she was in college. “I don’t want to buy clothes or fancy shoes, I want to spend my money on traveling,” said Ms. Lugo. Not only does she travel but she also speaks many languages. While in college she majored in French and Italian, and even taught French classes. “It was really good for my overall formation,” she said. In total, Ms. Lugo speaks: French, Italian, Spanish, English, and she took one semester of Latin. “By being a student in foreign languages I noticed how much I didn’t know about my own language and that’s how I fell in love with Spanish.” She ended up adding on a minor in Hispanic studies and a second bachelor in education. Although English was her favorite subject in high school, she was still didn’t like to use her skills. “I used to be scared, I would literally push my sister every time we came to the States. I would push my sister to talk for me because I hated talking in English- guess what, I’m teaching [in] it,” she said while she laughed. She considered herself a nerd in high school because she was in many of the school clubs, including newspaper, and hated sports. “It sounds silly, but when I was growing up the way that my parents would punish me is by taking the books from me,” said Ms. Lugo. She has many hobbies of her own that she loves to do. She still loves reading to this day. She also loves to hike, and she has recently ignited a passion for baking. “October 31st was my first Halloween here, and it was the first time I carved a pumpkin, I took all the inside and I made pumpkin pie cheesecake and I stuffed myself with that,” laughed Ms. Lugo She also enjoys movies, and dancing. “Just put on music and I’ll start moving,” she exclaimed. She describes herself as that friend that will make you dance no matter what. “There’s a point in the party where no one cares what you’re doing it’s like ‘whatever just dance!’” Her advice to students is to get out of their comfort zones. “Don’t even let that zone exist. Get out and do things that you know are going to make you grow. Don’t you ever stay in that comfort zone and not let yourself grow and then afterwards say ‘what if I did that? How would my life be different?’” Ms. Lugo certainly didn’t and she has many amazing memories because of it. It is due to this mindset that West Springfield High School is lucky enough to welcome Ms. Lugo to their staff.