Ryan Bemis believes learning another language is a doorway to understanding.
“By learning about a language, you learn about the culture at the same time,” said Ryan, who will teach Spanish at Mosaic School and IDEAS Academy this fall.
“My main goal while teaching is to get students to understand that different does not mean bad, nor does it mean better. It just means different,” he shared. “We all need to understand that people come from all different areas and points in life.”
Ryan, 31, grew up in Sheboygan. He took his first Spanish class in eighth grade at Farnsworth Middle School and has been hooked on the language ever since.
“I don't just want people to learn the language,” explained the 1998 graduate of South High School. “I want my students to love it and find a great appreciation for those who come from other cultures.”
Ryan completed his undergrad studies at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, where he majored in Spanish and minored in English as a Second Language. He is certified to teach pre-K through grade 12. He also holds a master’s degree in educational technology from Marian University.
He has been to Mexico three times for study purposes – twice in high school and once in college. He attended a Spanish immersion school in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Ryan said he particularly enjoyed the experience of getting to live with host families.
The Spanish teacher began working in the Sheboygan Area School District in 2004. He has taught every grade level except fourth grade and has taught at many of the district’s schools: Farnsworth, Urban, Horace Mann, Wilson, North and Jackson. He’s also taught ELL, which he will continue to do this year in addition to teaching the Mosaic and IDEAS Spanish classes. He’s not been assigned to a particular school yet.
To keep his language skills honed, Ryan enjoys spending time with native Spanish-speaking friends. He also reads books in Spanish, listens to Spanish music and watches some TV programs in Spanish. He finds that he prefers to watch movies in English, though.
“The only thing that is hard with movies is when you are watching a movie like ‘The Mask’ with Jim Carrey and the voice-over in Spanish is not him. The movie loses something then,” he said.
Ryan’s hobbies include swimming, biking and gardening. He recently started canning his own vegetables. He has canned tomatoes and pickles, and he’s working on perfecting a tomato sauce this year. Ryan also likes to hang out with his 4-year-old nephew, Gregory. The two of them go for bike rides, swim, play baseball and work in the garden together.
This summer, Ryan has been designing the curriculum for his classes at the charter schools.
“I want students to be able to take the information they are learning about and make it useful and real-world,” he said. ”I want my students to have a grasp on the language and learn how to play and have fun with learning it. We will also be focusing on the different countries and cultural items. Culture is a very important part of learning a language.”