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Marlborough says adiós to Spanish instructor Margarita Llano

Margarita Llano celebrates her birthday on March 12, 2016.  Photo by Sandra O'Connor.
Margarita Llano celebrates her birthday on March 12, 2016.
Photo by Sandra O’Connor.

Spanish instructor Margarita Llano announced her retirement in her 19th year teaching at Marlborough this April.

This year, Llano hit a milestone birthday and went on a trip for two weeks to India with her children Pablo and Nina, and said that these moments contributed to her decision to retire. Her daughter lives in Los Angeles, and her son lives in San Francisco. Because they are 31 and 29, she said she feels comfortable spending more time in Colombia with her siblings and mother.

“I saw the light while I was over there. Everything is really beautiful. People care a lot about family and religion, family quite clearly, is the most important thing, and I feel that gets lost a little bit here. America is not as family-oriented in my opinion, so I really yearned for that again,” Llano said.

Llano began teaching Spanish in Los Angeles in 1982 at St. Matthew’s Parish School and began teaching at Marlborough in 1997. She said she was excited to be able to work with a team of teachers instead of being on her own as she was at her previous school.

She began as an instructor for the Upper and Middle Schools and eventually transitioned to teaching only in the Middle School. She served as an advisor since her first year at Marlborough and accompanied students to summer immersion trips to Spain and class camping trips. She was the faculty advisor for countless clubs including the Spanish Club and Cooking Club. In addition, she  was a member of many faculty committees, including LEAP, which stands for Learning, Eating, Activity, Play, and promotes faculty and staff morale.

Dean of Faculty and math instructor Sandra O’Connor came to the School the same year as Llano and has been friends with Llano ever since. O’Connor starts every school day by stopping by Llano’s room for a hug and wishing each other a good day.

“You know when she’s around, you can hear her, for the tiny tyke that she is, you can hear her,” O’Connor chuckled, “But that’s what always makes me laugh. She’s a good buddy to have. She’ll always have your back.”

Looking back on her time at Marlborough, Llano said she feels great gratitude for the students she has been able to teach. She said she loves how hard Marlborough students work but worries that students are too quick to compare themselves. She has written on her board a list of reminders to her students, one that says not to compete with each other, but with themselves. She said that her students are the reason she loves teaching and that she feels a lot of kindness from the Marlborough community.

“When I am outside of the School, and I meet somebody who said ‘Oh Ms. Llano, thank you so much for teaching me to love your language. I have majored in Spanish, or I went to live in Argentina or in Spain because you put that little seed in me,’ I love it,” Llano reflected.

Nicki ’16, who is also finishing her last year at Marlborough, was Llano’s advisee and student as a seventh grader. Nicki’s grandmother, Catherine Schindler, and Llano became friends at a Grandparents and Special Friends Day and now play Gin Rummy together every other Wednesday. Nicki said she is grateful to Llano for starting her Marlborough journey with her in 7th grade.

“She’s a great woman, and Marlborough will have a tough time replacing her. Thanks Ms. Llano,” Nicki said.