Education professor provides insight as an international teacher

Blanco holding a painting of a toucan. | Photo by Dylan Olive

Dylan Olive
The Southern Editor

After teaching every grade level throughout the last 51 years in various schools – Costa Rica and throughout Florida – education professor Dr. Bernardo Blanco says he is “building his legacy” at FSC and plans to continue, for the foreseeable future, his passion for teaching.

Students may know him from taking education classes in the areas of English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) methods, applied linguistics, curriculum development and cross-cultural communication, or from the fall and spring Junior Journey trip that Blanco leads to his home country, Costa Rica. 

It was “many, many years ago” that Blanco decided he was going to be a teacher. Growing up in Costa Rica, he received his bachelor’s degree in English Literature and was in medical school, but decided to switch to teaching. He then got a scholarship to get his master’s degree at Ohio University and then was a Fulbright scholar through the Institute of International Education where he pursued his Ph.D. studies at Indiana University. 

“I enjoy what I do, and I think it is important to like what you do,” Blanco said. “It is very important because I think teaching is a people’s profession. We teach people, we don’t teach books. And when I go to class, they can attest to that fact. I won’t teach books, I teach you. The book is a bridge to connect…the book is old already once you buy the book. Life is coming up.”

Blanco taught undergraduate and graduate courses for 19 years at the University of Costa Rica and then taught in the States for a few years at the University of South Florida (where he won Outstanding Faculty of the Year Award in 2008), then at Southeastern University for seven years. He also taught elementary, middle and high schoolers, as well as college students.

“I like all of [the grade levels], and now I have a good time with students here because this is the new generation of American students, who, as I tell them, they need to hear that they probably live in the best country there is,” Blanco said. “You can disagree, be my guest. I’ve lived in this country for a long time and visited a lot of other places. There’s no place like America.”

Since the school’s opening in 2010, Blanco has been highly involved with The Roberts Academy, the on-campus school for children that serves as a focused classroom setting for children with dyslexia to improve their reading, writing and spelling skills. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Blanco spends his days at the Academy as the athletic director, teaching physical education (P.E.).

While he prefers teaching at the college level, Blanco said he loves sports and getting to teach children. What students on campus might not know is that Blanco was once a professional soccer athlete in Costa Rica, and played while in school at Indiana and Ohio. Having played every sport (except for golf) he incorporates tennis, volleyball, soccer, and other sports and games while teaching P.E.

“I keep on learning,” Blanco said. “I learned from every experience. Those children have something to teach you; teaching is a two-way road and is never a one-way [road]. If it’s one way, you’re not teaching. You’re preaching. So, it’s a matter of learning both ways.”

At FSC, Blanco is building his legacy: his son graduated from FSC years ago and his granddaughter is in the pre-K school within the education program, the Early Childhood Learning Lab. Outside of the Roberts Academy, Blanco has years of coaching experience in soccer through Lakeland Christian School and in the Florida panhandle, where he had a soccer club with more than 200 members, and they would travel and play other teams. 

During his years of living in the United States, Blanco has learned one thing about America throughout his experiences that he hasn’t seen in other countries: the ability to give. 

Another major lesson that Blanco learned from the United States is the well-known quote that says, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” He said that other countries pretend to be naive, and because of this mindset here, Americans do not. 

“They give…they give, regardless,” Blanco said. “Americans are peculiar, and that’s why I personally appreciate the fact I’ve lived it. My family has lived it. I’ve learned that’s why I’m here. This is not about how much money you make, it’s about how many lives you can touch.”

With no plans in the near future of leaving FSC or of retiring, Blanco is appreciative of his time on campus and is “very happy being here.”


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