Even though some students might not believe it, teachers have lives outside of school. They were once teenagers themselves, too. However, some Godwin teachers had a different teenage experience than what most American teens are accustomed to. 

Godwin math teacher Faisal El Anzaoui teaches Algebra II and Statistics & Probability. He spent most of his childhood in Benslimane, Morocco, where he was born.

Most of everything for El Anzaoui was different from America – from his house to his schooling. 

El Anzaoui lived with most of his extended family inside of his home. In America, it is typical for families to just live with their immediate family. 

“In Morocco, the extended family is very central to life. It is not unusual to have a house where your grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins live,” said El Anzaoui. 

This way of living was fun and exciting for El Anzaoui because there was always positive commotion in the household. 

“We entertained a lot of family and there was always something to celebrate,” said El Anazoui. 

El Anzaoui also had a different schooling approach than what students find in the US.

“There is never any homework [and to pass the grade] we typically have one end-of-year exam that is taken at the national or regional level. These are very challenging and determine whether you pass the entire year,” said El Anzaoui. 

If a student misses the exam, there are no retakes and they must redo an entire year of schooling. 

“If you miss the exam, you must repeat the year regardless of your personal circumstances. Only extreme emergencies that can be documented are acceptable,” said El Anazoui.

It wasn’t until nine years ago that El Anazoui decided to move to the US after finding love in the States.

“I married an American woman and moved here to be with her and start a family [in 2012],” said El Anazoui. 

Godwin Spanish teacher Maria Villarroel Burruss also grew up outside of the United States in Cochabamba, Bolivia. 

She grew up going to a private school, because the public schools do not have as many resources as the ones in the United States.

“I was in a private school [because] public schools in my country struggle a lot. The education they provide is sadly not the best because of the lack of resources,” said Burruss.

Burruss’ school hours were also different and much shorter than the ones that we have in the United States. 

“Our school day would be from 8am to 1:30pm and we would go home and eat lunch. If you played sports or other activities, you would do it from 3:00 to 5:00 pm,” said Burruss.

Another difference in Bolivia is the respect that the parents and students have for the educators. 

“School in my country is different because parents usually don’t need to contact teachers [and the other way around too]. Once a teacher contacts a parent, all of the responsibility will fall onto the student. Parents respect teachers very highly and sometimes that happens in the United States and sometimes it does not,” said Burruss.

After a vacation in 2003, Burruss decided to make the United States her home.

“I moved almost twenty years ago. I came on vacation to visit my brother and got a job offer and work visa. I then fell in love and got married and had a child so the United States became my home,” said Burruss.

William Raposo, an orchestra teacher at Godwin high school, Deep Run high school, and Hungary Creek middle school, grew up in Bombay (now Mumbai), India. 

“My homeland is Goa, [which was] a Portuguese colony for 450 years until 1961,” said Raposo. 

Like schools in the United States, India is high in competition. However, the degree is much higher there than it is here.

“India is very stiff due to the huge population. Every class had 50 to 55 students with one teacher. Students came from different cultures, languages, and religions. Every student had a different language at home, but in school, the [majority] of instruction was English,” said Raposo.

For students born outside of the US, Burruss, Raposo, and El Anzoui offer advice. 

“Just give it time and learn English as fast as you can. Work hard, learn English fast, and know that you are not a dummy. As soon as [you] learn how to speak the language, you will feel a lot more confident,” said Burruss.

“I would advise students to take advantage of all the opportunities that this great country has to offer,” said Raposo.

“Do not be afraid to ask for help and find a support system to help you navigate the challenges [of moving to the US]. You can do it,” said El Anzoui. 


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