Hispanic Heritage Month: A Spanish Teacher's Impact in Twin Ports Education

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: October 11, 2019 06:28 PM

Hispanic Heritage Month is about recognizing the contributions that Hispanic and Latino Americans have made in the United States. Maria de Lourdes Novelo has contributed to the Duluth and Superior community with her role in the education system.


Novelo is known as "Malu" to her students and coworkers. She teaches Spanish and goes above and beyond as a teacher to make sure her students are doing well inside and outside of the classroom.

On some days, she teaches Spanish at the College of St. Scholastica.

“I like it a lot I feel like I’m getting more than I ever did in high school. I think she’s a super awesome teacher,” said Emily Olinger, a student of Novelo.

“She keeps it exciting we do a lot of activities where we are constantly moving around the room and we have different partners. Not only are we up and moving but it’s an inclusive community because you get to know all your classmates more,” said Shane Tetzlaff, a student of Novelo.

Malu makes a big shift in her job. She goes from teaching Spanish to college students, to teaching Spanish to elementary students at Superior Cathedral School. 

“It is invigorating because it keeps me on my toes. It’s a challenge but it keeps me thinking on how I keep both groups entertained and interested and willing to learn the language,” said Malu.

Malu wears several hats at Superior Cathedral. Besides teaching Spanish, she's a guidance counselor and is in charge of the middle schooler's activities there.

”Kids nowadays, it doesn’t matter where they are, they always need someone for support. As my role as a counselor here I try to do that, I work on prevention. I have a guidance class with students and I also work in intervention when there are things happening to the students,” said Malu.

Malu said she enjoys having one on one interactions with her students. She makes sure they are progressing academically and are also doing well emotionally and mentally.

Malu said before she starts classes she’ll give students a survey on different topics they want to talk about.

“It’s important that they feel they have someone to talk to. To me, that's invaluable. Maybe it's not huge to the world but in our school environment I think it’s making a difference,” said Malu.

In the 25 years she's lived in Superior, Malu has been able to incorporate her language and Mexican culture into the schools she teaches at. It’s something she takes pride in doing every day.

“Superior Cathedral is a private catholic school so they have learned to pray in Spanish. I have prayers printed out in the hallways and we pray before we go eat lunch. That’s something I feel I am bringing,” said Malu. "We do a lesson on the Day of Dead and we create altares (altars). The kids participate, they bring food and they get to experience that, so they’re also learning about my culture. A part of me feels happy that I can bring some of that here."


Alejandra Palacios

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