Rachel Mercedes teaches extracurricular Spanish classes to local children, through her business Estrellas Brillantes, using the award winning La Jolie Ronde programmes with classes delivered at local venues in Busby, Uddingston and Hamilton.
Rachel was honoured with the much acclaimed La Jolie Ronde Licensee of the Year Award for Scotland and the North of England.
On finding out that she had won this award at La Jolie Ronde’s Annual Conference at St Leonards Hall in Edinburgh, Rachel said: “I’m so honoured to win this award as I just love teaching languages.
“I feel very fortunate to work with a wonderful company with top quality courses and materials for children of all ages, and to get to work alongside amazing people who have been so helpful and encouraging to a newbie like me over the past 2 years since I started teaching. I’m also really grateful to have so many fantastic students that make the classes so fun and lively!
She added: “Going to work is never dull.”
Rachel’s passion for languages was first ignited after she finished university.
She worked as a missionary in Bolivia, South America, for 7 years – working with children who lived in prison with their parents, in a children’s home and in the local community.
With Spanish being Bolivia’s official language, it was here that she learnt Spanish, from scratch, with the help of local children and families she worked with plus she bought books and taught herself the grammar. After a couple of years Rachel was speaking fluently and over time was able to lead children’s clubs, run parenting workshops and teenage groups, as well as provide counselling and support, in Spanish, to children and families.
When Rachel returned home she set out helping the community with various projects and took on the role of children and young people’s support worker with Glasgow women’s aid, supporting children living in refuge, who had experienced domestic abuse. She also volunteered with Glasgow City Mission on Friday nights during this time, working with women who were homeless, isolated or who struggled with addictions.
During this time she was also looking at ways in which she could engage the local community, particularly children, in sharing her love of Spanish.
In 2017, after researching various options, she took the plunge and joined La Jolie Ronde’s network of teachers and set up her own business, Estrellas Brillantes, teaching Spanish (at lunchtime and) at afterschool and weekend clubs.
As word got out how good Rachel’s classes were and that learning Spanish was fun, Rachel decided to expand her classes.
Today with the help her tutor, between them, they teach 105 course students, 15 nursery age children and 45 families at the baby and toddler classes (with around 60 children) - so in total around 180 children attend Rachel’s weekly classes.
Rachel continued: “My time in Bolivia showed me how rewarding it was to learn a new language and to be able to communicate with others as easily as if I was speaking in English. I love the language and I’m so pleased I can share this love of Spanish with children every week in my classes. I want the children to be excited about learning Spanish and understand how amazing it is to be able to travel and visit new places and speak to people in their own language. I also speak in Spanish to my baby and together with my husband, who is from the Dominican Republic, we’re bringing him up bilingual.
Rachel is currently busy preparing for Estrellas Brillantes fundraising classes that take will take place this Christmas. She is hoping to raise funds for the children in the Ugandan school that she fundraised for and supported during the summer.
“It’s great to be able to have kids along to learn Spanish through songs, games and arts and crafts, and to involve them in raising money for children who have so little and need their help” she said.
Rachel was presented with her Award by La Jolie Ronde’s Founder Colette Hallam.
To find out more about Rachel’s Spanish classes please contact her on: Tel: 07535 183398 or Email: [email protected]