Silvia Proano: Growing Understanding of People and Places

For 18 years hundreds of FCS students have had the opportunity to learn Spanish from Silvia Proano. This treasured member of our faculty started at the school in 2004 and has worked with every grade from K-8 during her tenure. She is retiring this year and will be greatly missed.
Silvia started at FCS when her son was attending college at the University of Maryland. The proximity enabled her to be close to him and teaching Spanish was something she had already done for years. Teaching Spanish came naturally to her because she comes from a family of educators, “My mom was a teacher, my two older uncles were teachers and also a principal. It’s in my blood,” she says. “I love my language and I love to teach these kids this language which is a tool now, especially in this country where the Spanish population is growing. Being bilingual is very important.” 

When Silvia started at FCS we only had a Lower School and she worked with every grade. “I loved to teach the little ones in Kindergarten. Listening to them speak Spanish and respond to questions in the way that I was speaking myself melted my heart,” she says. She noted that in the younger grades it was easier for children to pick up accents, something she’d learned teaching her own children Spanish at home when they were young. 

When the Middle School started, Silvia was teaching K-8 which was a lot for one teacher to do. Soon two positions were created and Silvia shifted exclusively to Middle School. 

In addition to language learning, Silvia spends time on cultural education, exploring all the different places around the world where Spanish is spoken. Students are particularly interested in her stories about Ecuador - the country she moved from many years ago. She says “they love to hear about these things from me because I used to live there. It’s a tiny country but it is so beautiful. I have to talk to them about these countries in South America because they need to know that everything there isn’t awful” like the news might lead you to believe. “They need to know that we are humans and we are the same, the only difference is the language. I try to help them better understand other people and other places.” 

As Silvia approaches her last day at FCS she says, “I feel good that I did my job here and my students and I had a good time. I will miss this place, but it’s time for me to start a new chapter in my life.” Her retirement will not be sedentary. Right away she plans to visit her family across the United States and in Ecuador and then she says she will “spend a lot of time with my grandbaby. He is 2 months old. I will teach him Spanish because of course he has to be bilingual!”

Located in College Park, MD, Friends Community School is a progressive Quaker K-8 day school, founded on the belief that every child is a valued member of our community. We offer a challenging curriculum imbued with strong values of equality, integrity, community, environmental stewardship, simplicity and peaceful conflict resolution, rooted in our Quaker heritage.
Friends Community School
5901 Westchester Park Drive
College Park, Maryland 20740