Spanish Conquest

Teacher of the year Larry Horton aims to maintain 100 percent student passing rate on AP exam


Photo by Alyssa Abraham

Spanish teacher Larry Horton sits down to grade his students’ quizzes. Horton’s students have had a 100 percent passing rate on the Spanish AP test for the past four years.

“¿Como se puede representar una cultura para una comunidad en el mundo de hoy?”

How can you represent a culture for a community in the world today?

Spanish teacher Larry Horton walks into class, asking the same question every day in order to prepare his students to take on the challenge of learning a new language and to take the AP exam in the upcoming weeks.

Horton students’ have received a 100 percent passing rate on the Spanish AP exam for the past four years. He said that he, along with the Spanish teachers, strive to keep the momentum going for the following years.

“I just like making a difference,” Horton said. “I can help young people achieve things. As you know, learning a language is not easy. It’s helping people to do something that isn’t easy, and that becomes the challenge; seeing your success [in your career] is the biggest [achievement].”

Senior Melissa Ebrahimi, who was in Horton’s Spanish classes last year, said that Horton’s positive energy in the classroom has affected his students greatly.

“Mr. Horton, as a teacher, [is] very motivating,” Ebrahimi said. “He genuinely cares about students; he wants everyone to succeed and he’s very passionate about what he does. Every single day, he [was] up there, lecturing the class, pushing everyone to their full potential, and he really wants the best for everyone. You can tell that he truly cares about his job.”

Horton said teaching is not only about being in charge and leading, but also learning as you go.

“Just like students, you make mistakes, you fail, and you figure out what it is you need to do to try and fix [your mistakes] and do a better job,” Horton said. “It’s not always going to be easy; it’s going to be rough, there’s going to be hard times, and you have to figure out how to make the most of that. I made a lot of mistakes the first year of teaching, then once you figure out what you need to do to make it work for yourself and your students, then you start seeing that [teaching] becomes more manageable.”

Sophomore Nicole Drewnick, who is currently in Horton’s AP Spanish class, said his enthusiasm towards his students lights up the classroom atmosphere, and takes the feeling of a pressured classroom away.

“Most people think Spanish IV is very hard,” Drewnick said. “It really is a struggle, but he gives it a fun aspect and makes it worthwhile. It is hard when you have quizzes everyday. It involves a lot of studying. Mr. Horton is hard on us, but it’s a good thing that he does that because without that, we’re not going to do well on the AP test.”

Both Ebrahimi and Drewnick agree that Horton is great at helping students when they are having trouble learning the language. Ebrahimi, who received a four on the AP Spanish exam, said Horton’s nonjudgmental manner of helping her with the language influenced how she is as a person.

“Every single time I went to his class when I needed help, he was always willing to help me with a positive attitude,” Ebrahimi said. “He always encouraged me, along with all the students. That really affected me. Having a positive teacher and having someone that believes in you is very important. It motivates you to do better.”

Along with his strong passion for Spanish, Horton said he was interested in fine arts during high school and college, including art and music.

“When I was in school, I was actively involved in marching band,” Horton said. “I played the trumpet, and I liked art. Spanish was my favorite subject, but I was also interested in music. When I graduated from high school, I continued to play the trumpet in a drum and bugle corps and we toured all over the country. It was called Skywryters; they were from Hutchinson, Kansas.”

Horton has been teaching at Hebron for the past 18 years. He taught color guard for four years, but stopped to concentrate on Spanish .

“I began teaching here at Hebron in the year 2000, and I [taught both] until 2004,” Horton said. “In 2004, I [also] started teaching the AP classes. I retired from color guard so I could focus more on teaching the AP Spanish classes. As I taught color guard here at Hebron, I was proud of the success that they [had], because they had won many awards: a state title in 2002, and a national finalist position in 2003.”

Horton was named Teacher of the Year 2017-2018 and he said he feels honored to receive the award.

“It’s an honor just to be recognized and, you know, to be nominated,” Horton said. “There [are] great teachers in this school. It’s a great school; it’s a great place to work. There’s a lot of people to be around and people who care about doing better, and learning a lot.”

Horton said he knows there will always be struggles and rough spots in life. He said when one pushes through and gives all of his effort toward something in particular, success will find those who try.

“What I think is really cool about Spanish is we learn about tenses: the past tense, the present tense and the future tense,” Horton said. “I think one [of] the most important things you can learn in life is that you have learn from the past, take advantage of the time that you had in the present, and make the most of it so you can be successful in the future.”