“I have been like a Robin Hood all my life,” said Roberto Mercedes, Spanish teacher, when I asked him what he was like in high school. He had always cared about activism and almost became a lawyer or journalist, but asked himself, “Who am I? Where can I do the most good in the world?” He ultimately decided on “education, education, education!” Mercedes, who grew up speaking Spanish in the Dominican Republic, decided that teaching his language was a good fit because he loves to read and write and he also loves his students. Teaching Spanish was a way for him to communicate the joy and beauty of his culture.
He said about Masters, “I want to be a part of an institution that promotes being a power for good in the world. That phrase is a summary of Masters. It makes the teachers and administrators better. It gives our students commitment, not only about themselves but also about the world beyond. It’s like when the world is full of darkness, we are the light in the middle of darkness.”
In his classes, Mercedes tries to bring some of this light. It’s his contagious energy that makes his students love the language. “I do my best so the classroom looks like real life. In real life we have music. So, music in the classroom. It’s a part of life. Immersion of language and culture is the best way to learn.”
Outside of class, Mercedes likes to read and spend time with his son. He is also involved in various social causes. He says, “I do my best to be an activist in the community. Also, I participate in the housing movement or immigrant movement.” For Mercedes, teaching high school is also a way to affect positive change. “I love to be with teenagers because I think they have the power and the heart that this world needs to be better. The hearts full of hope are in the high schools.”
Mercedes wants graduating seniors to take the heart of Masters with them, he preaches empathy and said students should, “Take with them the best thing that they have learned at Masters. The spirit of the Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration — of social change. Also the happiness of the Halloween celebration. The enthusiasm of their teachers, the commitment of the administration — take the best of Masters with them like a treasure that can use if they are in trouble in the world beyond.”