Educator Spotlight: Meet ‘The eTwinz’
Mario and Alberto Herraez arrived to the States with a shared passion to teach and grow
This story is part of a series that celebrates outstanding educators the Flipgrid community. Stories by Angela Tewalt.
Last spring, twin brothers Mario and Alberto Herraez walked into a conference center in Paris amid thousands of fellow teachers buzzing with excitement, when Alberto looked at his brother in bewilderment.
“How did we get here?” he asked, even repeating the question as they each continued to gaze at the sight — bright lights ablaze, chatter buzzing, a global conference, educators from everywhere, and two humble attendees who three years earlier were just interns ravenous to teach.
After growing up in Spain, Mario and Alberto had only recently begun teaching in Farmington, Utah, each elementary educators at a language immersion school. Beyond that, they were learning, too – acclimating to a new culture, a new job and a new place to call home.
It can take years to find comfort in all that, but for Mario and Alberto, who call themselves “The eTwinz,” they’ve since presented on stages, received awards for their work and now spend their days teaching science and history classes in a language they couldn’t even speak fluently a few years prior.
So, what led them to the promising event that day? What brought them from then to now?
With their matching smiles and a boldness that only perseverance can muster, they say in unison, “Passion.”
And, they did it together.
Brotherly Bond Inspires a Willingness to Learn Together
Mario and Alberto have been in the states and teaching at the same school together for a few years now. But, they’ve always been close, of course. They were in every class together from kindergarten through college. Growing up, they shared toys and bedrooms and now live together today.
“We were raised this way,” Alberto says. “We needed to be best friends. Our parents always taught us that family is really important and that, as twins, we have a special connection we cannot lose or take for granted. It is part of who we are.”
They choose each other, too. Mario says that education is in itself collaborative – teachers learning from one another – and he’s always looking to Alberto first.
“If I have to work with someone or need support, I always pick my brother,” Mario says. “Living in the same house, we talk about education all the time, but it’s what we really love.”
They look alike, their hearts align and you can’t even tell whose laugh is whose, but their different perspectives – on teaching and in life – complement one another tremendously.
“I am more optimistic and dream bigger,” Mario says, “and Alberto is more realistic. He likes to think about things.”
“He's more energetic,” Alberto clarifies. “But all that energy, he’s more nervous, too. He’s more passionate in everything he does, where I am calm and there to analyze the situation. We empower one another in that way. We take good care of each other.”
MARIO AND ALBERTO HERRAEZ TEACH EDUCATORS ABOUT FLIPGID DURING SIMO, THE LARGEST ANNUAL EDTECH CONFERENCE IN THEIR HOME COUNTRY OF SPAIN.
Their parents back home in Salamanca are comforted by the bond.
“It’s really hard being away from them,” Mario says. “And not just the big holidays, but the teeny tiny details, too, missing their daily life. But this is all they’ve ever wanted, for us to be together and have each other’s backs. And they always say that if we are going to be this far away from them, at least we can still count on one another.”
Both personally and at school, every day and always, they do.
MARIO AND ALBERTO HERRAEZ CELEBRATE WITH U.S. TEACHERS AT LAST YEAR’S E2 CONFERENCE IN SPAIN.
At Canyon Creek Elemenary in Utah, they speak in both Spanish and in English every day, embracing technology and projects that create a meaningful learning experience for both themselves and their students.
“If you had told me five years ago that we would be teaching in English right now, I would have laughed,” says Mario, who teaches sixth grade. His brother teaches fifth. “But we love it so much, because we don’t just share the language. We get to share our culture and how we live in our country, and giving students the opportunity to learn a new language at 11 and 12 years old is something we never had at that age. It’s been quite an adventure.”
For years now, they’ve put in hours’ worth of training, motivating one another from conference to PD sessions with a willingness to run toward anything big and new. Even today, they don’t miss an opportunity to learn, share, meet people and grow.
Every day, they’re invigorated, and it shows.
MARIO AND ALBERTO HERRAEZ TOGETHER RECEIVED THE OUTSTANDING YOUNG EDUCATOR OF THE YEAR AWARD FROM THE UTAH COALITION FOR EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY (UCET).
“If you’re passionate about something and you just want to get better, you don’t care how many hours you put into it,” Alberto says. “But we’re also here because we are surrounded by amazing people who have mentored us along the way. Education is not just content or tests or numbers. It’s about the people and caring for others.”
And taking care of each other each day – as brothers, educators, confidants and family.
“I feel like in this journey, we’re not just better educators,” Alberto says. “We’ve helped each other become better people, too.”