Shelly Terrell on Sister Luz Moreno

As a Hispanic American, we would frequently drive to the border and do missionary work in Mexico so I'd like to describe Mexico for those who have only been to the resort areas.

Families often live in shanty towns and there are cardboard cities where houses look like they were made from boxes. As many as seven live in these homes. Children do not know the luxuries of basic needs or a formal education, they ask tourists to buy Chiclets and other goods to get enough money to eat.

This is the México that Sister Luz has dedicated her efforts to make a difference in and where she began her journey.

Sister Luz Moreno is not just a "she" in English Language Teaching, but a remarkable person who possesses an intense passion for helping people. She was born and raised in León Guanajuato, México.

Not only did Sister Luz teach in Mexico, but she drives there annually to give poor children toys and clothing. I found this out by just Googling her name because she never boasts of her service. Read this amazing article about her, Good Works in Mexican Village Multiply like "Fishes and Loves."

She learned English in her teens by attending a Brigidine Boarding School in Abbeyleix, Co. Laois, Ireland and entered the Religious Life after Vatican Council II.

Although she has taught in México, Ireland, and Italy, I met her in San Antonio, Texas where she became my mentor in my second year of being the English language teacher at our high school.

At the time, we had over 30 international students from 12 different nations and various proficiencies.

Sister Luz noticed that the English language learners were struggling in their mainstream classes and that they rarely interacted with native speaking students so she sought my help in creating an International Society.

In the first year, over 70 native speakers and English language learners attended several festivals and cultural activities. We even hosted an International Thanksgiving supper featuring over 30 dishes from various countries. Over 100 members of the community attended.

I asked Sister Luz why she chose to help the English language learners at the school.

She responded, "The Sisters in Ireland helped me to learn English. I worked hard to master the language and to love its literature. I believe foreign students will have something like two souls when they master, appreciate and love the culture where they live, in this case, our American culture.

I get chills when I hear Sousa's Stars and Stripes Forever, just like when Mariachi's play.

I also get chills when I hear an Irish tenor or my Italian songs. That is to have a soul that speaks to God in different languages."

For the She-in-ELT series, I interviewed Sister Luz and was touched by her answers.

Describe your experience as a nun

I have experienced the love of God in my life. I am sure he takes care of me and holds me in his embrace. He is a provident husband, friend, father and brother to me.

He gives me a large family in the people who love me here and opens the doors of opportunity for me wherever a door closes.

What obstacles have you faced as a teacher and as a nun?
The main obstacle I sometimes face is poor self-image. This is an obstacle that I have worked to overcome and with God's grace and support from family and friends, I have improved.

What made you want to teach?
I love to work with people. My teachers gave me self-confidence and wings to fly. I want many to fly with me, fly on their own and soar high so they can touch God, so to speak.

What has been one of the most cherished teaching experiences in your career?
I remember encouraging Richard Castillo by giving him sheet music and asking him to play it. I love when I see a talent and I am able to bring it forth and the person flourishes in that area.

I fondly remember teaching vocabulary to the foreign students who came from Asia, feeling I was making a difference.

Who has been a great influence on your teaching style?
The Sisters from Ireland have been a great influence in my teaching style. Also, Señorita Coco who opened my mind to classical music and many other beautiful aspects of life. She taught me many a course in León.

Lately, I have learned a lot from being involved with a team in a small mission ministry in Matehuala, México. Giving to others in the form of teaching energizes me. I desire to be a good teacher and the Holy Spirit shapes my daily teaching with the words that come out of my mind and the way my lessons are presented. I could not do it on my own.

- o -

I am blessed to have a mentor like Sister Luz in my life. She has encouraged me to step beyond the boundaries of teaching and to reach the heights of giving. She is also a close friend.

Shelly Sanchez Terrell is an English language teacher from Texas who now teaches in Germany where she has been fortunate enough to meet another inspiring "She in ELT," Karenne Sylvester. Shelly has worked in nonprofit organizations and taught in unstructured settings for 12 years before becoming a "She" in ELT herself. Find out more about Shelly by visiting her LinkedIn profile and her Teacher Reboot Camp blog.

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2 Responses to “Shelly Terrell on Sister Luz Moreno”

  • Anne says:
    September 25, 2009

    Lovely, Shelly. EFL is always just a part of the work we were meant to do, and it seems some of our sisters (and Sisters) understand that best of all. :) Anne

  • Shelly Terrell says:
    October 01, 2009

    Thank you! I really enjoyed writing about Sister Luz. While writing this I learned about even more of her great charitable contributions! I'm glad Karenne let me contribute!


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