Teacher leaves home in Madrid to work at Topeka school

Education 21st Century

Mar Burillo’s passion for teaching took her thousands of miles away from her friends and family in Madrid, Spain to a classroom full of 4th graders in Topeka. 

Burillo is a dual language teacher at Whitson Elementary. 

“When I’m (in Topeka), I’m learning all the time,” said Burillo. 

Burillo’s first year at Whitson was in 2014. She taught for two years until going back to Spain in 2016. 

When she returned home, she said kept feeling as if something was missing. 

“I just missed my place (at Whitson),” said Burillo. “I wanted to come back.”

So this August, she returned to Topeka to start her third year teaching in the United States. 

Burillo is one of the district’s visiting teachers. The teachers come from all over the world, to teach in district schools, many of them teaching dual language classes. 

Whitson Elementary Principal Keelin Pierce said the visiting teachers, including, Burillo bring a lot to the students. 

“Having a teacher from a different culture come into the school is not only exciting for (the students), but (the teacher) also brings their culture with them.” 

Burillo said is able to teach about her culture in small ways every day. She said even writing the date highlights differences. In Spain, they write the day first and then the month. 

The differences, big or small, don’t make Burillo feel out of place. She said that she feels as if her colleagues and mentors at Whitson are part of her family.

She said that’s the reason she wanted to come back to Topeka. 

“Once you go back home, you feel like something is missing,” said Burillo. “Here (at Whitson) I found my place, I really like it here.” 

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