Señora Zelaya prepares to leave Walnut

Spanish teacher Jazmin Zelaya says farewell to her colleagues and students after announcing her leave two weeks into the school year.

Zelaya’s decision to switch school districts marks the end of her 12-year career as a teacher at Walnut. Her choice to move was prompted by her intent to work closer to her home and family.

“It was definitely a difficult decision [to leave Walnut]. A lot of teachers want to work here because it is a good school, and part of it is because of the students. I do feel sad because I’m going to have to leave all of this, all the memories,” Zelaya said. “I have a lot of former students who come and visit me after two years, four years, even six years. That tells me that I have been doing something right because they still remember my class.”

After earning her master’s degree in literature, Zelaya worked at Cyrus J. Morris and Castle Rock elementary school before transferring to Walnut during her second year in the district. She will continue teaching Spanish 4 Honors and Advanced Placement (AP) Spanish at Foothill High School in Tustin Unified School District this year.

“[After college], I wanted to do more with the language because I love literature and my background. I definitely wanted to do more discussions with analyzing text and literature. That is where my passion is,” Zelaya said. “I’m excited to work with new students and the new staff. I’m hoping [the school] is a good fit for me and that I’m able to accomplish a lot of new things like I did here at Walnut.”

After her departure, Zelaya’s AP Spanish class will be taught by Spanish teacher Diana De La Cruz. As a farewell gift, Zelaya’s students threw a small party in commemoration of her time at Walnut.

“What makes Señora Zelaya stand out is her willingness to help students in class. Whenever a student has a question, she’d answer their questions or even spend her own time to teach you the lessons that you don’t understand,” senior Cyrus Lee said. “She would tell jokes in class and make everyone laugh. Moreover, I really appreciate her dedication to teaching, [and] I really appreciate her love for her students.”

While she prepares to transfer, Zelaya encourages her students to continue their study of Spanish and further expand their knowledge of the language and culture.

“I hope that [my students] continue to learn the language, and I hope that someday what they’ve learned in class is useful,” Zelaya said. “We talk about politics, we talk about art, we talk about history, and that’s what I like about Spanish. I can expose students to different things. I hope that they [can take their knowledge] into the real world.”

By Jessica Huang, Production lead
Photo by Brandon Win