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News by students, for students of Millennium Brooklyn High School in Brooklyn, NY

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¡Bienvenido Señorita Klaus!

Meet Ms. Klaus, the new Spanish II teacher at MBHS!
Dasha Trofimov
Ms. Klaus teaching a sophomore Spanish II class

The clock strikes 8, birds are chirping, the sun is shining and Senorita Klaus is eagerly waiting at her classroom door to inspire the minds of her 10th grade Spanish students.

Stefanie Klaus, the new and enthusiastic Spanish 2 teacher, joins Millennium Brooklyn’s staff this year. Beyond her devotion to florals and pumpkin cream cold foam, Ms. Klaus has led quite an exciting life. She grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, where, at just 7 years old, she took first place in a mall Halloween costume contest dressed as a witch. The commitment she surely dedicated to her Halloween character is also likely what got her hired at MBHS. Dedication is a word that embodies not only her teaching ethos but also her zeal for extracurricular endeavors. Case in point: Ms Klaus is an enormous Lebron James fan and once won a competition where she had to show her love for him and the Cavaliers by creating a poster declaring her devotion;, she so succeeded in this task that she earned tickets to an NBA Finals matchup of the Cavs against the Warriors.

In college, Ms. Klaus was set on being a journalist–but the spark was not there. “I was in my senior year of college and I just wasn’t feeling my major […] I loved to write but the journalism industry just wasn’t [for me]”. Coincidentally, she was a double major in Spanish– just because she happened to be good at it. She had been learning Spanish since middle school and had been a good student–but, by her own admission, not extraordinary. In her senior year of college, Ms. Klaus did a volunteer program in Costa Rica and then studied abroad in Spain.

Through those experiences, Ms. Klaus found that she actually loved speaking Spanish. “It’s one thing to learn a language in a classroom, but it’s completely different to go into the culture and experience it,” she recalls. After that experience, she asked herself, “What can I do that can help people, that I can work with people? […W]here I can really make a difference, where I can be creative, where I wouldn’t be sitting at a desk all day, and where each day would be a little bit different? And I was just brainstorming and was like, ‘Oh duh, teaching is like all of those things.’ […] But I never saw it coming.” 

Rather than student teaching in the United States, Ms. Klaus wanted to satisfy her wanderlust by seeking out a post further afield. Klaus remembers one day in middle school when her Spanish teacher was absent, the substitute teacher showed a video of the Galapagos Islands. At that moment, she decided, “Oh my gosh, if there was one place in the entire world that I wanna go to one day, it’s the Galapagos Islands!” She fulfilled her dream of seeing the island’s famous giant tortoises and Darwin’s finches by taking an assistant teaching post in nearby Ecuador, just a plane ride away. When Ms. Klaus finally saw the Islands for the first time, she cried.

Given her desire to see the Galapagos, it was a no-brainer to do her student teaching in South America rather than the United States. But upon her arrival, things took an interesting turn. Ms. Klaus was anticipating teaching English to Spanish speakers or Spanish to English speakers. But for some reason, the details of her post had not been properly conveyed to her in advance. She exclaims, “I did not know until my first-day teaching that not only was I teaching Spanish to native Spanish speakers, but I was teaching 11th-grade language arts!” She apologized to the class, explained to the students that she was learning to be a teacher and that this was her first time, so if she made any mistakes they could correct her. “They were so wonderful! They never corrected me in a way that was embarrassing or condescending […] It was awesome!” After student teaching, she taught English in an International Baccalaureate School to 6th graders in Ecuador. “I just taught 6th grade English, math, science, and social studies in English—It was super fun to do science experiments and teach about ancient Mesopotamia and stuff I usually don’t get to teach as a Spanish teacher!” The experience was her one and only time teaching in English as she has been teaching Spanish ever since.

After two years of teaching in Ecuador, she moved back to her hometown of Cleveland, where she taught Spanish for seven years. But how did she end up teaching at Millennium Brooklyn if Cleveland is over 400 miles away? Well, her best friend had moved to New York and absolutely loved it; she then asked Ms. Klaus if she would move to be her roommate. The native Buckeye with a taste for adventure thought, “Alright, let’s do it!” On August 15th, 2019, Ms. Klaus uprooted herself from the Midwest and officially became a New Yorker. But why MBHS? At her previous public high school, Ms. Klaus had been the only language teacher in the entire school and an advisor. Her advisees were graduating, which provided her a segue to “graduate” alongside them.

Her students attest that Ms. Klaus is an incredibly understanding teacher. “She takes everything into consideration when assigning work,” says sophomore Melea McClinton. Klaus displays perpetual enthusiasm for the Spanish language and she’s always smiling and eager to teach. “Even if it’s a really slow morning, she’s always really energized,” shares Maya Ruiz. Klaus especially thrilled her students when she brought conchas and pan de muerto following a week long lesson on Dia de los Muertos. “She gave us a look into Mexican culture through food” added Ruiz. Students also note that Klaus is incredibly kind “Not all teachers are this friendly […] I can ask her questions without fear,” says Spanish II student Athena Lin. Her bubbly personality is not reserved exclusively for her own students. “She always welcomes me into her classroom during office hours,” compliments French II student Celeste Sternberg. “She engages me in conversation even though I am not a student of hers.” 

 Ms. Klaus is elated to join the MBHS language department where she has multiple Spanish colleagues to collaborate with this year. They are excited to have Klaus as a colleague too. “[Ms. Klaus] radiates positivity, always has a smile on her face, and she’s always very encouraging to her students,” Ms. Kwan, the MBHS Spanish I teacher, says.

If you can believe it, Ms. Klaus has interests beyond Spanish, florals, caffeinated pumpkin beverages and basketball; she has room to love music from Beyoncé and Drake, movies like Mean Girls, Clueless, and Home Alone, and shows like Breaking Bad. If she were not a teacher, Ms. Klaus would aspire to be a National Geographic photographer who could travel the world–most importantly, “back to the Galapagos Islands” where she would photograph wildlife, nature, and animals. But of course, Ms. Klaus is happy and excited to be teaching at Millennium Brooklyn. She loves that MBHS is a multicultural school and the students are her absolute favorite part of the job. “I love how the students are kind, fun, and always excited about learning! Working with other Spanish teachers is really fun too! […] I love everything about it so far, 10/10, 5 stars, would recommend it to a friend!”

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