CHS Welcomes New Teacher Jessica Orellana-Lima


The CHS Foreign Languages Department has a new Spanish teacher!

Jessica Orellana-Lima is originally from Guatemala, and moved to Los Angeles, California when she was 10 years old. She has lived in Portland for about eight years now. In her free time, she enjoys travelling and spending time with her family and two pets, Trixie (a Catahoula dog) and Louie (a Maine Coon cat).

In terms of her education, Orellana-Lima said she attended community college straight out of high school. 

“For me it was a really difficult path because I got kicked out of community college because I was failing. I was working full-time, more than 50 hours per week and had a lot of responsibilities at home. I couldn’t focus on my studies—so I dropped out of school and then I kept going back, as I wanted to improve my life, and finally earned a fashion degree from Los Angeles Trade Technical College and worked many jobs in the fashion industry such as fashion buyer, retail manager, designer and fashion merchandiser.” said Orellana-Lima. 

She also explains that when she was able to, she transferred to Humboldt State [University] Where she earned two bachelor degrees. One in Spanish education and another in International Studies with a focus on Latin America and Spanish Education. For grad school she attended University of Oregon and University of Portland, so she holds two masters degrees, one in Teaching and the other in Spanish Literature. 

One awesome thing she mentioned was that when she was in college, she had an amazing opportunity to study in Ecuador.. 

“I lived in Ecuador, and studied at Universidad Tecnológica Equinoccial. I had the opportunity to travel all over Ecuador and write my thesis about Latin American film which is one of my passions” said Orellana-Lima”

While she was on her Ecuador trip, Orellana-Lima said that she actually met her husband who is Romanian and happened to also be studying abroad at the same university.

In the past, she has worked for OMSI teaching informal science. She has also taught media arts, painting, and has a background in fashion design. Which was her first career path. 

Orellana-Lima has been a teacher for about 12 years and has always wanted to be a teacher since she was young. She taught at her previous school district for five years, and this is her first year teaching at CHS, but she has also taught classes at the University of Oregon for two years. 

Every teacher has their own style and methods for teaching, much like how Orellana-Lima has her own spin on things as well. When she teaches beginners classes she uses the T.P.R. (Total Physical Response) method, which is a method that uses body, visuals, and emotions to teach. In her advanced courses she teaches literature and film.

“It’s very animated and sometimes it can get a bit loud. Music and my culture are very important to me, so that’s my number one priority when I’m teaching… and I also tell stories about my travels around Latin America and Spain” said Orellana-Lima. 

Students will also get a sense of what it’s like being a Guatemalan immigrant living in the United States when taking classes with Orellana-Lima, because that is a huge part of her identity. She knows first hand the struggles for undocumented first generation college students. There are a lot of wonderful opportunities associated with being in the education field, but Orellana-Lima also said that she felt very overwhelmed, at her last school district, because of the lack of diversity.

“I grew up in L.A. and I’ve always lived in very diverse communities, around people that are different; Asian communities, black communities, and latinos.  And at my previous school I was the only Latina teacher,” said Orellana-Lima. “… I felt very isolated… I was [the students’] only latina teacher.

On the bright side, since she started teaching at CHS, she expresses that she has had a very positive experience getting to know all the students and staff.

The new school year has also come with it’s many challenges, and that has been particularly challenging for teachers like Orellana-Lima. 

“Going hybrid was difficultduring virtual learning my students weren’t showing up, that was the hardest. And if they were showing up, they were not participating,” said Orellana-Lima. 

Even if the pandemic has knocked her a little bit off course, Orellana-Lima has been able to make the most of it. She has also started some new hobbies since the start of the pandemic. Orellana-Lima said, “[I started] walking more, cooking more at home, and gardening, and obviously spending time with my pets and husband.”

With the new school year in full swing, it is an opportunity for many worries and excitements to arise. Orellana-Lima is very thrilled to be teaching A.P. Spanish and her heritage classes (that for the record, are worth college credit through Portland State University).

“I’m excited to be here, first of all… being part of the community… I live here, so I’m very invested, said Orellana-Lima

We are very excited to welcome Maestra Orellana-Lima to CHS, and are all super excited to see what this new school year has in store for her!