An Arizona preschooler proved himself to be a pretty thorough teacher as he taught a classmate how to count in Spanish during lunch in late February.
In a video, 4-year-old Mark sits across from his classmate, a little girl named Charleigh. He says each number and waits for her to repeat it, making sure she gets it right.
At one point, nueve trips her up a bit, but Mark doesn’t let up.
“Nueve,” he repeats, a little louder this time, coaxing her to try again. And she does.
The students are preschoolers at Marcos de Niza Preschool in Tempe, Arizona; it’s housed in Marcos de Niza High School where Mark’s father, Mick Wojciechowicz, has taught Spanish for 17 years.
The school posted the video on Instagram on March 1, drawing comments about how cute the students are and how great of a teacher Mark is.
“He wasn’t playing about making sure 9 was said correctly,” wrote one Instagram user. “Too cute.”
“That ‘tres’ was the cutest,'” another social media user said.
A school administrator said it’s cool that Mark was teaching Charleigh because his father taught Charleigh’s mother. His father also taught the woman who recorded the video, preschool supervisor Sabrina Pacheco.
How did the lesson begin?
Pacheco said she was talking to Mark during lunch when he mentioned a summer trip to Peru, where his mother’s family lives.
As Mark spoke to his teacher in Spanish that day, some of the other children overheard and asked how to say certain words.
“I like to encourage the children to speak Spanish if they do know, so I was telling the children to ask Mark,” Pacheco told USA TODAY. “He was really excited.”
Eventually, some of the kids began counting in Spanish as well. Charleigh wanted to learn, so their teacher asked Mark to help her.
Mark and Charleigh are pretty close and have been in groups together before, Pacheco said.
“Mark and Charleigh have always started off really good friends,” she said. “They like to help each other out.”
Wojciechowicz, Mark’s father, said he is proud of his son for helping others learn. He does it at home too.
He quizzes his mother in math and makes sure his parents pronounce his classmates’ names properly.
His parents play along and give him opportunities to correct them, like when they’re learning to say the name “Everett.”
“Everest?” his parents ask, prompting the little teacher to respond “Ev-witt. Evwitt.”
When he’s not quizzing those around him, he loves Spider-Man, playing with cars and he’s also into Jiu-Jitsu and soccer, his dad said.
The value of diversity
Mark’s father said Spanish is his son’s first language.
He’s working on his English pronunciation and has been exposed to it more since starting preschool. Next year, he’ll be enrolled in a dual-language program where he’ll speak English for half the day and Spanish during the other half.
His father praised the school’s administrators for recognizing how important it is to be diverse.
Pacheco said she didn’t expect the video to draw so much attention.
“I love reading the comments,” she said. “It inspires me to lcontinue doing what I do.”
Saleen Martin is a reporter on USA TODAY’s NOW team. She is from Norfolk, Virginia – the 757 – and loves all things horror, witches, Christmas, and food. Follow her on Twitter at @Saleen_Martin or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.