From Spanish teacher to community leader

Gina Munig has chosen a new career path after 25 years of teaching foreign language.


Matthew Centner, Chief Editor

For the past two and a half decades, Gina Munig taught high school Spanish, 18 years at Menasha and 8 years at Oshkosh North. Now, Munig has decided to try something new: she will enter her first year as a teacher in the Communities program. 

“After teaching Spanish for 25 years, I felt like I needed a change and a new challenge,” Munig says. “The position of Communities teacher opened up. I have a degree in educational leadership, and I wanted to find out what it would be like to teach that. I talked to [Kim] Gauthier and [Rick] Lieb about the position, and it sounded interesting, challenging, and very different from Spanish.”

Munig was also interested in the position because her children, Garrett and Grace, have both been a part of the program. 

“My daughter was in the program for all four years of high school, and now my son is in it as well, and I wanted to see what it was like for myself. From a parent’s lens, it’s really cool to see.”

At first, Munig struggled with the idea of working as a team rather than on her own:

“Even though with Spanish you have a department, you still have your own classroom, and you’re teaching on your own all day,” she explains. “Whereas here, we have a team of 4, plus [Susan] Lieb, who is a coordinator. I had to wrap my head around that. But so far, I really enjoy it. I think we all [Communities teachers] compliment each other well.”

As a former Spanish teacher with a love for new adventures far from home, Munig plans to introduce travel to the community-based program. 

“Travel is a huge passion of mine. As a Spanish teacher, I took many trips with students to Mexico, Costa Rica, and Spain. I’d love to help the history and culture component of Communities come alive by traveling to different countries or different places in the United States to help students experience and appreciate the history that we are studying within our program.” 

One example of her ideas for travel involved traveling to Germany or Poland for a World War II unit. 

Not only is she excited for the potential to travel, but she is also looking forward to strengthening her relationship with the community of Oshkosh. As a Communities leader, Munig has opportunities that she never had before, such as the ability to get out of the classroom more often, work on projects side-by-side with her students, and make a change in the community she grew up in. 

However, there are some things about teaching Spanish that Munig will miss. At first, Munig was concerned that she would lose the ability to be fluent in the language. When telling her fellow Spanish teachers this, they reminded her that with over 30 years of experience, forgetting Spanish would prove difficult. 

Most of all, Munig will miss her former students. 

“I’ve had some of my previous students for three years, so I will miss continuing teaching them Spanish. The good thing is some of those students are in Communities, so I still get them as a student—just in a different capacity. I will miss all the fun games and silly stories, but really, it’s the students [I’ll miss the most]. Many of them aren’t a part of Communities, but they still come and visit.”

While she may not have the same Spanish students or the same classroom setting, Munig will undoubtedly make connections with her new students, Señora or otherwise.