These are the words printed on the Spanish IV AP Literature class t-shirts at Del Rio High School. Spanish instructor Enrique Santillán has one goal: Help students become fluent in the Spanish language. But success is based on more than just instruction and homework.

“Research shows that students tend to learn more and pay more attention in class when a teacher shows that they care for them,” Santillán said. “And when you dress nicely, you show you care, so then you earn more respect.”

His collection of ties and a color scheme of shirts goes beyond professional appearance. “My dress is functional and it serves a purpose, and that’s to get students to learn,” he said. Engagement and enthusiasm with the students is also essential to their success.

Santillán uses various means to ensure that students learn the language properly. From teaching proper sentence structure in Spanish II to reenacting story scenes in Spanish IV. “We used to do plays, but we do videos now with the advancement in technology,” he said. “I use illustrations to introduce each lesson to help the students better understand the concepts.”

Although doing everything possible to help students graduate with the required language classes and helping students have a 95% chance or higher in passing the AP exams for Spanish III and Spanish IV courses is a main part of his job, Santillán is also the head coach of the boys tennis team at Del Rio High School.

“Every morning I pack two sets of clothes — one for my teaching profession and the other for coaching,” he said. After Santillán’s last class period he changes into his coaching attire for tennis periods eight and nine and after-school tennis practice. Balancing Spanish class attire with that of tennis attire requires keeping a professional appearance in mind. When after-school parent-teacher conferences clash with tennis practice, Santillán is prompt in changing back into his teaching attire in order to keep his professional composure, transitioning his mindset from tennis to teaching.

From stacks of books of stories and poems to a painting of Don Quixote on his classroom ceiling, Santillán expresses his passion for his profession, but success begins in one’s appearance.

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