Cruisin’ with Mr. Cruz

–by Natalie Ristic

If you are a student at Elyria Catholic, you must know or know of Mr. Cruz.  Even if you have not had this amazing teacher, you have surely heard his name while roaming in the halls.

Mr. Javier Cruz is from Ceuta, Spain.  Ceuta is actually a small city in northern Africa that belongs to Spain.  

Mr. Cruz loves Spain.  Besides the fabulous weather, his favorite part about his home country is that the norm is to go out with friends everyday.  Also, in his opinion, the food there is to die for.

Although Spain has its many perks, there are numerous aspects of the United States that he enjoys.  For instance, the people here compared to Spain’s are much kinder.  Also, the life the United States has to offer seemed easy and pleasurable to him.

Mr. Cruz came to the United States in the summer of 2009.  While being here, he has lived in many different places in Ohio.  Currently, he is living in Fairview Park, and he plans to stay there for awhile.  

Although he was ecstatic to start a life here, adapting to the American culture was a bit of a difficulty for Mr. Cruz.  Mr. Cruz was never a fan of English growing up, so it was tough to make that his primary language.  

When Mr. Cruz lived in Spain, he did not use credit cards.  He enjoyed using cash because it is much less stressful to use.  Also, he likes to pay everything all at once; whereas in the United States, many things are paid over the span of months or even years.

Another difficulty he had was deciphering the people’s accents here.  However, most of the people’s accents that are hard to understand is his own students.  Sometimes it seems like students do not even open their mouths while speaking to him.  

In addition, Mr. Cruz has noticed some clear differences between Spanish and American culture.  For example, while going out with friends in Spain, there was no need for a car because people walk everywhere.  Also, the prices in the United States are much more expensive than in Spain; the tips are less and the tax is included in the price in Spain.

Also, the people in the United States are extremely polite, especially the teachers.  In Spain, the teachers have more lenient rules regarding how they treat their students; the teachers say the truth, even if it is hard.

In Spain, people may have a different idea of what is fun compared to the standards here.  For instance, teenagers in Spain enjoy going to the disco on Fridays.  However, while he lived in Madrid as an adult, he enjoyed going to three or four restaurants with his wife to eat and drink.  

While living in the United States, it is unusual to see places that remind him of Spain.  However, in Cleveland, there is a restaurant called Mallorca that resembles the food that is eaten in Spain.  

When moving away from Spain, Mr. Cruz left plenty of his friends.  Nevertheless, he still keeps in touch with his two best friends.  One of his best friends lives in Manchester, and the other lives in London, but he still manage to talk them at least once a week.  Also, he talks to some friends that are still living in Spain about once or twice a month.  

Seeing that Spain has warm weather year-round, a person would think that nothing could be better than that.  Even though Mr. Cruz likes the weather there, he actually prefers Ohio’s weather.  He loves having the four seasons; in fact, his favorite season is fall.  

Even though Mr. Cruz was never fond of English, he still had been knowledgeable in the language, considering the fact that he had started learning it in sixth grade.  Since he needed to communicate with his wife and her family, he started studying English more.  As a result, he took ESL (English as a second language) classes for two years.  

Although Mr. Cruz truly loves the United States, he plans on moving back to Spain when he retires.  The life in Spain is much cheaper, and he looks forward to living like a king with his wife there someday.

Something that people may not know about Mr. Cruz is that he loves movies, especially the soundtracks that go along with those movies.  He can confidently confess that he has seen over 1,000 movies, and he owns over 500 soundtracks.  His favorite movie and soundtrack is Brave Heart.

While Mr. Cruz lived in Spain, he attended high school at Saint Augustine in Ceuta for his first three years and in Madrid for his last year; he was at two different locations because the school in Ceuta only offered three years.  

In his opinion, high school in Spain is much more difficult than high school here.  For example, in Spain, everyone is in honors classes; whereas in the United States, people are given the choice whether or not to take the honors classes.  

Since Mr. Cruz was in an all-boys grade school, he was intimidated by the girls when he entered high school.  He was terrified of the fact that countless girls were smarter and taller than him.  However, he thought of high school as a wonderful experience; he mostly enjoyed the summer camps that were connected with the school.  

Not only did he enjoy high school, but he relished college as well.  He attended the University of Ceuta, the University of Granada, and the University of Madrid.  There he earned a degree in Education and Physical Education.  

At the University of Madrid, he met the best teacher he had ever had, Mr. Antonio Rincon.  This particular teacher had taught Mr. Cruz how to prepare lessons in a way that students would find interesting.  Mr. Cruz thought that Mr. Rincon resembled him because he would be funny but also serious; Mr. Rincon always considered what would be in the best interest for his students.

In sixth grade, his language teacher inspired him to become a teacher.  The teacher explained something to Mr. Cruz, and the topic finally became so clear in his mind that he did not not need his teacher’s help anymore. This teacher made Mr. Cruz realize that he wanted to help others understand just as his teacher did for him.  

When evaluating the teaching profession, Mr. Cruz was fond of the idea that teachers did not have to work during holidays or the summer.  Also, he feels a sense of accomplishment when he helps students fully comprehend what he has taught.

Even though, Mr. Cruz wanted to be a teacher at an extremely young age, he did not always want to be a Spanish teacher.  In truth, he wanted to be a math teacher; he even considered being in the military like his father.  

Growing up, Mr. Cruz took pleasure in playing sports and learning.  His passion was soccer, and his favorite subject was math.  As a matter of fact, he played soccer for three years in college.  

At Elyria Catholic, Mr. Cruz teaches the first three levels of Spanish.  His favorite level to teach, however, is the second level because it is the most important.  Mr. Cruz’s philosophy is that an outstanding Spanish 2 teacher will make Spanish 3 exceedingly easy.

Mr. Cruz has taught at Elyria Catholic for a little over a year, and he is the current assistant coach for the boys soccer team.  He has been grateful that the staff here is welcoming, helpful, and exceptionally nice.  In addition, the students at EC are generally well-behaved, especially compared to other high schools.  

Mr. Cruz finds that a delightful teacher must be an actor.  A teacher must present a topic in an eye-catching way so that it will stick in the students’ minds.  The lessons must be special and humorous, but they must also show the concept in a beneficial way.

If you have not yet had Mr. Cruz as a teacher, an animated, funny, and caring person, you are missing out on a fun and exciting way to learn a subject; he is guaranteed to be different from any other teacher you have ever experienced.