SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) –A Sioux Falls teacher is on a mission to teach kids about the world using music. We take you to Laura B. Anderson Elementary where during the school year, something special goes on in the first grade music class.
Eduardo Mendoza is from Bolivia, and growing up had never heard of South Dakota.
His path to teaching in this classroom in Sioux Falls is an unlikely one.
“I don’t know how I ended up here, but I think it was meant to be.”
Mendoza found a Northern State brochure someone had left behind in an office in Bolivia, he applied to the University in Aberdeen and the school said yes.
After graduation he was offered a job here at Laura B Anderson Elementary in Sioux Falls.
“He’s full of energy, passionate about what he does, he gets the kids excited about music, said Principal Wade Helleson.
The school principal says Mendoza has grown as a teacher and the kids respond to his teaching style.
“We want our kids to appreciate music and experience different kinds of things and so he’s giving them experiences from the world,” said Helleson.
Mendoza believes in music as a powerful teaching tool.
“What dance do you know from Latin America that is super famous? Raise your hand if you know it. Kenya, Salsa!”
He uses dancing to teach kids how to keep a beat.
After seeing how the kids react to his music class, you might be surprised to learn.
“I never thought I would teach.”
That’s right this guy who brings so much joy to the classroom, did not see himself as a teacher.
“My supervisor told me you know you would be a good teacher, you have the personality of a teacher. I was like no way, I went just because I was curious,” said Mendoza.
At first Mendoza thought he would teach high school, but in his last semester of college he decided to teach younger kids.
“And it’s because kids are unique, kids are still pure kids don’t have the bias, negative bias in the world, kids really enjoy learning new things.
Teaching isn’t his only title, he is also a Cultural Ambassador, for the Bolivian Consulate in Washington DC.
“I proposed to them how about we collaborate in America and we try to take the Bolivian culture to places they have never heard of and the Ambassador was like let’s do it. I’m all for it and so they started supporting me,” said Mendoza.
He’s also a member of the Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation, which paid for a good portion of his college education at Northern State. In exchange Mendoza shares his love of Latin music with others. He does it in person in classrooms and at events and through social media, playing a wide range of instruments and singing.
“I love creating TikToks, Instagram videos that take my passion for multiculturalism and spread it statewide, maybe nationwide if possible.”
But even with these talents and responsibilities, at this point teaching remains his top priority.
“I feel fulfilled when I interact with those kids, I don’t know if its because I got lucky, or because it was meant to be.”
“But at the end of the day when I get those hugs or those high fives I’m like hey music is my favorite subject in the world.”
“That makes me want to cry, and I feel that that is my mission, that’s my goal and I love it.”