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Rock Canyon High School's Student Newspaper

the Rock Online

Rock Canyon High School's Student Newspaper

the Rock Online

Rock Canyon High School's Student Newspaper

the Rock Online

FRIDAY FACULTY FEATURE: From Shredder to Spanish Teacher

The life and work of señor Derek DeNileon.
Derek+DeNileon+poses+as+a+Renaissance+portrait+while+teaching+Spanish+III+Honors+in+the+ASL+classroom+on+Nov.+9.+He+taught+classes+in+the+ASL+room.+
media by Aditya Khanolkar
Derek DeNileon poses as a Renaissance portrait while teaching Spanish III Honors in the ASL classroom on Nov. 9. He taught classes in the ASL room.

While walking through the diverse hallways of the World Language Pod in the 8000s, one particular Spanish teacher may stand out.

You’ve most likely seen him before; he’s short, bald and bearded, with an unmistakable chuckle: Derek DeNileon, Spanish teacher by day and maximum shredder by night, has been educating students across the county for over 20 years, all while creating memories along the way. 

It’s the early ‘90s: DeNileon is jamming to punk rock with long, strong hair down to his shoulders.

At this time, DeNileon hoped to find a career in computer science, as he studied computers and Spanish in college, but his career route quickly changed when he found an opportunity to teach Spanish. 

“I found it better than [information technology] and I’d get two to three months off as well,” DeNileon said. 

And so, on his first teaching gig, Sr. DeNileon walked into the Castle Rock Academy Charter, armed with notecards to present his detailed lesson plan. 

“I realized that I didn’t need all these fancy notecards,” DeNileon said.

He put the notecards down on the table, and just taught.

Derek DeNileon plays the bass while his daughter plays the drums in his living room Sept. 24. The two played together, with DeNileon’s daughter occasionally singing. (media by photo courtesy of Derek DeNileon )

DeNileon was motivated by the comradery and the culture of Spanish. He finds the alliance between himself and his students was—and still is—strong. Other avenues also arose, and, by 1995, DeNileon found himself shredding on bass guitar. 

“I’ve been a one-man jam band ever since,” DeNileon said.

So, after traveling along his winding journey, DeNileon found himself becoming a Jag, where he remains today. Until now, he has taught every level of Spanish available except Spanish IV and AP Spanish.

DeNileon even got to experience playing Seminar Trivia Bowl against one of his former students, Grace Simms, who now teaches alongside him.

“There hasn’t been one particular favorite moment from teaching. Instead, I love the little nuggets that occur every day. It’s what makes me a happy man,” DeNileon said.

If you ever see a bold and bearded teacher with a contagious smile strolling through the 8000s, don’t forget to give him a fist bump and ask, “¿Cómo estás, señor?”

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