Q&A with High School Spanish Teacher Gee Santos
Guilherme (Gee) Santos, CAC’s high school Spanish teacher, moved to Henderson, Tennessee, from Brazil in 2011. He graduated from Freed-Hardeman University in 2015 with a double major in English and Spanish and completed his Masters of Arts in Teaching with an Emphasis on Secondary Education in 2018. Mr. Santos is trilingual and speaks Portuguese, Spanish and English. We sat down with Mr. Santos to learn more about his passions, his unique perspective on culture and God’s provision.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! You grew up in Brazil, which is probably pretty different than Henderson, Tennessee, or Little Rock, Arkansas. Can you tell us a little bit about your home city and your family?
I grew up in a very big city called Belo Horizonte. Translated, it means “beautiful horizon.” It’s a city surrounded by mountains, and if you go up those mountains, it really is a beautiful horizon.
I have an older sister who is three years older than me, and my mom and dad, who are both my heroes. They are just amazing parents. I appreciate so much everything they did when I was a child. They made sure that we did not lack love.
When did you move to America? Why did you decide to attend college at Freed-Hardeman?
I came to America in 2011 when I was 20 years old. I started college late because I didn’t speak English until 2008, so I had to learn pretty quickly after graduating high school to catch up.
I had heard about Freed-Hardeman my whole life because the missionaries who started our congregation in Brazil went to college there. Freed-Hardeman always sent students on mission trips to our church during the summers, and I thought they were the coolest people and I wanted to be like them. I grew up thinking that Freed-Hardeman was the school for me, and I’m glad that it really was.
What is something you’ve learned in the time since you made the leap of faith to move to America in 2011?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned since moving to America is to trust God and His timing. We don’t always know what’s best for us, but He always does. He has proven to me so many times that He’s got my back and that I don’t have to worry. Of course, I still struggle with being worried about things, but I really shouldn’t have to worry about anything, because God knew what was best for me from the beginning. That’s a lesson I’ve learned many times. Sometimes you need more than one lesson for the same thing!
You’ve been a full-time teacher for a semester, and we are so glad to have you here at CAC. In what ways has teaching surprised you?
You know, when I was about to graduate from grad school, I can’t tell you how many teachers told me that the first year of teaching would be the hardest year of my teaching career. Obviously I don’t have anything to compare, because I’m still in my first year, but while it is challenging and it takes a lot of patience and preparing, I love it.
And honestly, CAC is not like any other school I’ve seen. During student teaching, I saw what schools are like for a lot of kids, and every day that I come here I am reminded that we are blessed to be here. We aren’t just here for the academic part, but we get the opportunity to grow spiritually and really get to know our kids. That makes a huge difference.
Every day I am here I am thankful. I never come to work ready to leave, and that’s awesome. Of course I’m ready to leave by 4 o’clock – that’s true. But I don’t get here at 7:30 ready for it to be 4 o’clock. And I know that not every job is like that.
What fuels your desire to teach the Spanish language to teenagers?
I think one of my greatest passions is communicating with people. That’s why I chose to learn English and to learn Spanish and to work on American Sign Language. I would hate to miss out on an opportunity to share God’s word because I can’t communicate with that person. I think communication is how we get to know people, how we learn about ourselves.
I know that language is not for everyone, but if I can share a little bit of that passion with my students to reach out to people out of their comfort zone – having to speak Spanish to someone – I think that’s why I do what I do. I want to give my students the skills to be able to communicate with people.
That’s beautiful. Thanks for sharing that with us. Speaking of sharing, we want to know a little bit more about you! What are some of your hobbies and pastimes?
Without a doubt my biggest hobby is singing. I love getting together with friends and just singing. I am grateful that I have found people here in Little Rock that like singing as well!
I also recently learned about CrossFit and I’m enjoying it. Interestingly enough, it’s been more of a mental thing for me. Every day I challenge myself to do something and when I accomplish it, it’s such a great feeling.
What is something about you that most people would be surprised to know?
I participated in a yodeling contest once in a town right outside of Henderson. They had a big fair, and one of the events was a yodeling contest. I thought to myself, “I can probably yodel.” I did not win.