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TEC Student of the Month Award

January 2015 - Gretchen Janssen

A kind and spirited woman, full of curiosity, while Gretchen is a student at Tierra, she has much to teach us. Initially drawn to learn Spanish by her passion for tango dancing, she pursued her studies (of the language and the dance) in many trips to Argentina where she developed a nuanced understanding of both topics. Upon moving to Portland, she quickly became a part of Tierra and made every effort to continue sharpening her skills, complementing group classes with individual private lessons and frequently gracing us with her presence at our holiday fiestas. Her remarkable generosity and insatiable thirst for learning are truly inspiring; one would be hard-pressed to find a more engaged and concerned citizen. We are honored to count Gretchen as part of our community and wish her and all of our students a healthy, happy new year.

December 2014 - Rose Bonomo


With immense enthusiasm for learning Spanish, Rose makes an incredible effort both in and outside of class to apply new knowledge and milk the educational experience to the fullest. She is eager to practice and takes advantage of every opportunity to interact with native-speakers, particularly in her work as an event space manager and on the town in the local salsa-dancing scene. Determined and studious, Rose often interprets the homework assigned as a springboard, stretching her vocabulary base and writing skills in animated compositions. Through her natural vivaciousness and fabulous sense of humor, she often stimulates group discussion and helps to build a comfortable and encouraging classroom atmosphere. With travel plans on the horizon and no sign of slowing down, we look forward to watching Rose surpass her goals while enjoying her company.

November 2014 - Rayner Ward


Rayner is a unique, you might even say unforgettable, student  whose humor and spontaneity bring an element of surprise to the Spanish classroom. After a long career of many careers including English professor, carpenter, and owner of a remodeling company, Rayner retired in 2007 to dedicate himself to his writing. He’s since self-published two novels and reports that his Spanish studies helped tremendously in the writing and editing process, particularly as he summoned his memories of Mexico and peppered the scenes set there with Spanish phrases and slang. Fascinated by language in all of its literary and vernacular manifestations, Rayner pushes the limits of his Spanish abilities, always seeking to express his thoughts on complex topics in an idiomatic fashion. We wish Rayner the best in his endeavors and are glad for his spirited participation in our community at Tierra!

October 2014 - Tanya Luken


With a joyful attitude and buckets full of motivation, Tanya has taken on learning Spanish like there’s no tomorrow. Committed to joining a program in the Peace Corps in which she will train people in a Spanish-speaking country to become business owners, Tanya’s passion for service and empowerment  inspires her dedication to learning the language. Having started out in Beginner 1 this past spring, she has breezed through our entire Beginner series by taking the intensive, twice weekly classes and is graduating to “intermediate” material this fall. Eager to practice in any way she can, she’s been speaking in Spanish with her friends and family (even the ones who don’t speak Spanish!) and taking every opportunity to use her newly acquired skills. It’s clear that with such drive, Tanya will reach great heights and we wish her the best of luck in her continued studies and future volunteer work.

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