Meet and Greet: New Foreign Language Teachers

Carlie Morgan, Reporter

Along with the introduction of a new subject, the foreign language department has added two new teachers to its staff.


plata_melissaMelissa Plata

The new American Sign Language teacher, Plata graduated from Lamar University in Beaumont, TX. She grew up in Cedar Park and graduated from Westwood High School in 2008.

Q: Why do you like teaching American Sign Language?
A: Sign language isn’t a very common subject to go over, but I am a very visual person so I picked it up a lot easier and I really enjoy signing and sharing the deaf community with others. I think it’s a good thing to have here and I’m excited to be here.

Q: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
A: Well I actually grew up in the area so I’ve been connecting with old friends in my downtime, you know, old high school friends, which is crazy.

Q: What is your favorite high school memory?
A: My favorite high school memory… I think it would be graduation, you know? Because there was a point in time in my freshman year where I was struggling, but I made it through and I graduated.

Q: If you were in a zombie apocalypse, what would your role be?
A: Oh man, okay, don’t judge me, but I would probably wanna be one of those people that tries to kill the zombies. I’d be a zombie killer. Yeah, I think so. I’d keep people safe.


gutierrez_jessJess Gutierrez

Gutierrez is kicking off her 15th year of teaching with Spanish III and Spanish III Pre-AP. She graduated with a masters degree in English Literature from the University of Houston and earned her undergraduate degree in Spanish from the University of Texas.

Q: Why do you like teaching Spanish?
A: I love waking up in the morning and knowing that I’m going to have an impact on the way my students think about things. That’s why I teach Spanish, because I love the language and it’s part of who I am and I’m excited about it, I have a passion for it.

Q: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
A: I love to cook, yesterday I made a blackberry balsamic vinegar salad dressing. I’m vegan so I like to vegan-ize a lot of recipes.

Q: If you could be an animal what would you be?
A: Oh my gosh, an elephant! Elephants are just gorgeous. They’re noble animals, they’re social, family animals which means they’re always with their family until death. In fact, whenever a family member dies they grieve for them.

Q: What is your dream vacation?
A: My dream vacation would probably be to go to an animal sanctuary, maybe in Udaipur in India. I’d like to help rescue homeless, maybe abused animals. The shelters care for them, they shelter them, and they feed them and in India it’s just such a problem, especially with the dogs there. That would be my dream vacation, to go to Thailand, it’s very veggie friendly there. My husband would probably say the Caribbean.