With the new school year, Malden High School welcomes Helena Talaya-Manso as a new staff member of the world languages department, teaching Spanish I, II and III to students this year.
Talaya-Manso is originally from Madrid, Spain where her interest in teaching began when she finished high school. More specifically, it was when she noticed both the passion and the motivation that her friend demonstrated towards the field.
At the time, Talaya-Manso had planned on studying journalism; however, she witnessed a group of friends protesting at a university in Madrid, where students were not being accepted “because there were many students who wanted to study that particular career,” and there was no place for all of them. As a result, she explained that after seeing this demonstration it was “[her] dream to be a part of this nice community of students” that wanted to become teachers because she was fascinated by the “spirit of cooperation” from the group.
Talaya-Manso went onto higher education where she received her bachelor’s degree in education and her master’s degree in alternative education. During her time in Spain, she taught in public education for six years where she ultimately decided to learn English and enroll in a teacher exchange program where educators from abroad can come to the United States. Talaya-Manso first went to Texas where she continued to pursue her studies and eventually received her PhD in Hispanic Studies at the University of Houston. In addition, she was a language lab director at the university as well.
Marta Cabral, the Holland House Principal, shared that “the [hiring committee] immediately thought that [Talaya-Manso] would be a great fit for Malden High” because she demonstrated a “wealth of knowledge and culture,” which is an asset that is “invaluable to the world language department.”
Cabral added that with Talaya-Manso being a native Spanish speaker herself and her extensive educational background, she believed “[Talaya-Manso’s] insight and her knowledge” would be carried over to Malden where she can “start content knowledge and teaching strategies” to students.
Adding on that thought, Sharon Kalagher, who is the World Languages Department teacher leader, explained that when hiring faculty members they look for individuals that can “interact well with students,” where the “ability to work independently [...] but also collectively,” is present. And what stood out to Kalagher was how Talaya-Manso is “attentive to details” and is “concerned about students.”
Prior to working in Malden, Talaya-Manso was deciding between two job offers, one being in Central Connecticut State University and the other at a private school in Malden. She noted that one of her decisions to stay in Malden was rooted behind her belief in being able to “contribute to the future of the Spanish program,” where she saw the “potential of growing the world language department” at Malden High. On top of that, “[her] love for culture,” is what she “wanted to bring to the students," especially about the world. Moreover, Talaya-Manso’s belief in the public education system further finalized her decision to teach at Malden High because she emphasized the importance that every individual “regardless of status,” has a right to a good education.
“With so many different students from many different backgrounds,” said Talaya Manso, she finds that the immense culture she sees in the school is something that is important where each person can “enrich others about [their] own contours.”
Outside of school, Talaya-Manso enjoys traveling around the world–some countries including Morocco, France, Bolivia, and Venezuela. She mentioned how within her first two years living in the U.S, she visited more than 35 states.
Talaya-Manso hopes to further educate her students about the importance of culture and aspires to contribute significantly to the language department at Malden High.