By: Craig McNair
Every once in a while someone enters your life who can influence and change the way you think and act forever. As a scared freshmen entering Penn State New Kensington I needed someone or something, a sign, that everything would be alright. I got that sign in the form of Señora Franco de Gomez, the Spanish professor of my first class ever at PSNK. As I hesitantly entered the classroom full of strangers I was quickly comforted by the maternal Professor who assured my fellow students and I that we would all know each other’s names soon enough and that everything would be alright. This experience enabled me to approach the rest of my classes that day with confidence and a needed belief in myself. More importantly that first experience ultimately shaped my whole academic tenure at PSNK through good grades, campus involvement and personal pride. Her spirit has influenced countless teachers, students and faculty at PSNK.
When asked about her thoughts on what makes “Señora” such a great professor, current Spanish student Sara Colaianne said, “her patience and sense of humor. “Señora” is always willing to help each student. She makes learning a new language fun and interesting and gives everyone a chance to participate and ask questions. She is a great teacher and she is always there to help her students. I was never good at Spanish in high school but now I am an “A” student because “Señora” has a way of really helping her students to understand everything about learning another language.”
Hannah McBean, a current Spanish student said, “she’s genuine and wants to see her students succeed. She has made learning a new language enjoyable. She loves to teach and that positive energy shows where ever she goes. She helped me and gave me precise instruction on how to sing a song I wrote in Spanish. Now through my music I am not only able to reach and inspire in song people who speak the English language but also Spanish speaking people.”
Former Spanish student, Kelly Haugh said, “Part of what makes Señora Franco de Gomez such a great professor is the way she’s able to relate to students and get them engaged in the class. I always looked forward to her class because it was so interactive, and she always kept class interesting by using all different kinds of activities to help us learn instead of repeating the same thing every day. She really made learning Spanish fun. Señora Franco de Gomez puts so much energy into her classes that it makes for a really positive atmosphere to learn in. It doesn’t feel like a classroom. It feels more like you’re hanging out with friends and having a conversation instead of trying to converse in a foreign language in a room full of people you barely know. That kind of atmosphere makes it a lot easier to participate in class and get comfortable with the language.”
When asked why she thought “Senora” has had such a large impact on the campus, Haugh said, “I think the reason Señora Franco de Gomez made such an impact on so many students is that she genuinely cares about each and every one, and her students know that. She really wants to know how you’re doing every day when she asks “Cómo estás?” and she wants to see each of her students succeed. “Señora” has that rare ability all great teachers have. She inspires her students to learn. Her retirement will leave a huge void on campus because she is truly irreplaceable, and all of her current and former students will be sad to see her go.”
I was blessed to have “Señora” for Spanish 1, 2, 3 and Conversation. I’ve never in my life had a more caring, informative and down to earth professor like Señora Franco de Gomez. “Señora”, the 2011 George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching recipient, is due to retire at the end of next year. The campus will undoubtedly never be the same once “Señora” retires. We love you “Señora” and thank you for the memories as you will never know how much they mean to us. “Hasta luego Señora Franco de Gomez.”