Croft says “adios amigos” to Tigard

By James Favot, Staff Writer

 After teaching here for 37 years, Spanish teacher leaves her mark

A teacher, a traveler, a musician, and an inspiring

achiever — it seems like Spanish professor Nathalie Croft has done it all. She has left a positive image on educators and learners alike during her years at Tigard High, and she will soon be boldly stepping into the next chapter of her adventurous and successful life–retirement.

Croft grew up on a family orchard south of Parkdale, Oregon, and attended Hood River Valley High School, where she was on the state champion ski-racing team. In her childhood and teen years, she had many farm jobs on the orchard, but she truly aspired to be a musician.

“I first majored in music at the University of Oregon, where I studied classical piano and voice,” Croft said. She also worked as a piano accompanist.

Besides majoring in music, Croft was in Honors College, and she enjoyed many of the subjects she learned. Although she additionally studied French, Italian, and German, Croft says she was a lot more solid with her Spanish skills.

“After loving third year college Spanish, I studied for a semester at the Universidad de Madrid,” Croft said. When she returned to Oregon, Croft did her graduate studies in teaching methodology and Spanish at the University of Oregon and Portland State University.

Her studies earned her a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish from the University of Oregon, and she taught first year college Spanish as a Graduate Teaching Fellow before coming to Tigard High School in 1980. Since then, Croft has been a lot more than a Spanish teacher at this school.

“Over my years at Tigard High School, I’ve been the advisor of the International Club, the Spanish Club and the Ski Club, each for many years,” she said.

Croft has been on the Curriculum Review Committee, the Technology Committee, and has been a building representative for the Tigard-Tualatin Education Association, as well as a Department Coordinator for Tigard High. She has been teaching IB Spanish since 1987, and she has hosted an annual International Week at the school for many years.

Croft has led student study-travel groups to Mexico and Costa Rica, and she has also individually traveled to Spain, Ecuador, Cuba, Australia, and most of Europe.

Croft has not only taught others through her years at Tigard High, but she has learned many things herself as well.

“[I love] watching students learn another language and about the cultures where it is spoken, inspiring them to travel and get to know other parts of the world,” she said. “It’s been rewarding to see students achieve, grow, and move toward adulthood with new skills and to have been a part of that growth.”

Croft says the biggest message she can give to others is that “…intellectual curiosity and engaging with the world are important and help us grow.”

She reinforces this lesson with her students by introducing many speaking activities and games based on the food, music, celebrations and cultures of Spanish-speaking countries.

Croft made the decision to retire at the beginning of the school year, in the month of September, and she is excited for her future. “I’m enjoying teaching my courses this semester for the last time,” she said. She and her husband have two Spanish-fluent, adult children who live out of state, and she says her future travels will include visiting with them.

Croft is also anticipating many other fun activities. “I am involved in a lot of chamber music, both as a pianist and a singer,” she said.

“I’m a bookworm, and I love hiking, biking, skiing, and swimming, so I expect to stay active and busy!”

To celebrate her last year here, Croft has recently been going through older yearbooks and scanning all of her photos.

“Seeing my picture in old yearbooks is a fun way to remember my years here, since I never kept those photos over the years,” she said.

The school year is flying by quickly, and in just a few months Croft will be enjoying the luxury of a new, work-free lifestyle. She requested that this quote be added to the article, as an inspirational message to all the students working hard to achieve their goals and stay strong through the school year.

“Viajar y cambiar de lugar revitaliza la meant.” – Seneca, Roman Philosopher “Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.”