A Brophy College Preparatory Spanish teacher hit a home run with her latest career move.

Or, perhaps a grand slam that allows five periods of Brophy Spanish students, Los Angeles Dodgers athletes she also teaches while they’re in the Valley and the Broncos’ baseball team to cross home plate, before the 20-year educational veteran scores herself. Baron is finishing her rookie “season” at Brophy and entering her sixth as an ESL/Cultural Acclimation teacher for the Dodgers. Each position has enriched the other.

Ian Munro and Kim Baron pose with some of their Dodgers students March 7. (John Bering/CATHOLIC SUN)

It’s likely Ian Munro, a fellow Brophy teacher, will score similarly as his Dodgers position begins in April.

“It was, is and continues to be a phenomenal blessing in my life,” Baron said. When not at Brophy, she immerses Spanish-speakers-turned Dodgers players in vital English and culture skills. Her athletic teaching season is “pre”-Spring Training through Arizona Fall League.

“It was wonderful when my worlds collided when I came to Brophy,” Baron said. She is able to show Brophy students video clips of the athletes sharing brief bios in Spanish, and once per semester can bring the players to Brophy for native dialogue with Spanish students and baseball advice — in English — for the Bronocs team. It worked last fall with two Venezuelan players.

The Dodgers and its minor league affiliates Baron works with come in at every level in regards to their English skills. Her class roster could be as little as 25 players for pre-spring training, triple in size during spring training and drop to 50-60 players for extended spring training. “It’s about growth and cultural appreciation. It’s how to navigate in a brand new country,” Baron said. Language is a big part.

(courtesy photo)

Upwards of 60-70 percent of players she sees as students are from the Dominican Republic with Venezuela, Cuba and Mexico also ranking highly. A prescribed curriculum helps them learn vital vocabulary for communicating with key people at the baseball stadium and in public such as banking, groceries and cell phones.

“Really exciting this year is we’re helping them earn high school diplomas if they didn’t get that in their native country,” Baron said.

“The Dodgers really believe in building the whole man… and knowing that, at one point, their baseball careers are going to end,” the Brophy teacher said.

Baron sees high motivation in her athletic students when they can see real world applicability in the lessons. Vocabulary such as “haboob” and “monsoon” usually draw smiles.

“They’re working tirelessly. They’re truly working really hard to achieve their dreams,” Baron said. My dream is that they’ll be ready to do their own [media] interviews when they make it to the big leagues without needing a translator.”

One player’s interview in English last season was with a former student from her secular teaching career now in the media.


Minor league players headed home

Discussion on season start date (nothing official)