ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WDVM) — A high school teacher arrived in the United States when he was just 13-years-old. Eventually, he found T.C. Williams High School and the crowd of supportive teachers that came with it. Now, Ornelio Mencho Aguilar is back at T.C., teaching international students English.
The high school’s International Academy teaches students English with class credits that count toward graduation. Mencho Aguilar is a teacher and a friend to his students: something he was desperate to find when he arrived to T.C. as a student.
“I would say T.C. gave me in a sense a group of supportive adults that I needed at the time,” said Mencho Aguilar. “I had some of the best teachers who cared about my well being as well as my academics.”
Mencho Aguilar emigrated from Guatemala alone and only spoke the Mayan language, Mam, when he arrived. He had to learn both Spanish and English when he arrived in the U.S.
After a job fell through in California, he found his way to Virginia to live with his father. Shortly after, he started school at T.C.
Mencho Aguilar says most of his family still lives in Guatemala. He visits every now and then, and keeps a promise to speak Mam at home so he doesn’t forget it.