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Catarina Portillo celebrates her 10th Service Anniversary at Union Catholic

As part of Union Catholic’s celebration of service anniversaries, we are taking an inside look at each faculty/staff member who is being honored.
Here is the latest profile -
Service Anniversary Honoree: Catarina Portillo

Years of Service: Ten
Position at UC: Currently teaches Spanish 2 Honors, Spanish 3 Honors & AP. Is also the moderator of the Portuguese Club, the Junior Class Co-Advisor, serves on the Middle States Team, and is on the 3.0 ISTeam.
Education: Graduated from Union High School in 2005. Was a member of the Spanish Club.
Graduated from St. Peter’s University in 2009. Majored in Spanish and minored in Secondary Education.
Earned a Masters in Educational Leadership from St. Peter’s University in 2015.
Before UC: Taught Spanish at Union High School
Journey to UC: “A miracle! I was applying for teaching positions and I really wanted to work in a place that would help me grow as a teacher and as a person. Mrs. Andrews replied to my email minutes after I sent it, and I came in for an interview the same week. When I walked in the doors, I fell in love (I had never seen such a clean school) and it was love at first sight.’’
Biggest changes you’ve seen at UC? “The biggest change I have seen is the implementation of Canvas. The learning management system has not only facilitated communication with students it has helped us prepare them for college and online courses.’’
What do you love the most about working at UC? “This place is special to me for many reasons. UC has given me the opportunity to grow as an educator and as a person. It has also given me a second family.’’

Favorite moment/moments during your time at UC. “I have had many wonderful moments while at UC. I have been pied in the face, I have had surprise parties thrown by my students, I have traveled through Paris and Barcelona with a wonderful group of students and friends.’’
Did you know: Catarina has earned a NJ Distinguished Cooperating Teacher Award
What are you most proud of when you reflect on your years at UC? “I am most proud of my students and their growth in the Spanish language. I get so excited when I see them travel to Spanish speaking countries with a desire to learn more about the culture and traditions of the people. The coolest thing is talking to them in class about what they want to do in the future and see it all become a reality.’’
Something about yourself that most people don’t know?
“I always wanted to be a teacher, but I also enjoy learning about criminal justice. In high school and college, I took many classes on law and forensic science. So, I applied to the FBI, DEA and CIA. I did get interviewed for two of the branches, but I knew my heart was in education.’’
Favorite thing to do in your spare time? “I like to travel, try new foods, and have delicious coffee. I enjoy spending time with my family and seeing new places.’’
Favorite UC Core Value: “My favorite core value is Community. UC is definitely a community and I feel that core value encompasses the others. Being part of a community gives you hope, makes you responsible, shows you how to respect others, and it guides you to be more honest and compassionate. UC is a family that keeps on growing.’’
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