Beginning an Era: Bienvenido, Sra. Rogstad

Profile on a new faculty addition to the Spanish department

As you walk down the Upper Scripps hallway, where familiar Spanish classrooms follow one after another, and pop your head into room 207, you’re bound to meet Spanish Teacher, Señora Leah Rogstad, smiling amidst groups of chattering students. “Even though we are teaching higher-level, content-based courses, I always like to think of students first as the curriculum,” she said. A new face in the Bishop’s Spanish department, Sra. Rogstad loves nothing more than seeing Spanish culture drive conversations within her Spanish Three and Four Honors classes. 

For Sra. Rogstad, her love of language somewhat began with her experience in traveling. Originally from a very rural town in Vermont, she traveled abroad to Peru after high school. This first experience of traveling outside of the country ignited a passion for travel; so far, she’s lived in Peru, Mexico, Spain, and even Los Angeles for five years. “I wanted to become a language teacher because I grew up in a pretty homogeneous space, both culturally and racially,” she explained. “Through learning Spanish and having the experience of interacting with Spanish speakers, it opened up my world to other perspectives and experiences, which have flowed over into all aspects of my life.”

Living abroad has really brought language learning alive for Sra. Rogstad. “By settling into daily life with people, you start to understand not just the stereotypical aspects of culture, but you actually get to see how different people think and live by having conversations with them,” she said, expressing her appreciation for the diversity Southern California brings.

In her seven years of teaching, Sra. Rogstad has taught everything from middle school to university-level Spanish. Just last year, she taught at a university in Pamplona, Spain. “I have taught middle school for two years, and high school for three years,” she counted. “So I was excited to come back to high school this year, and specifically teach courses that are a bit more content-based.” 

She expressed that her interest in Global Studies really made her eager to make comprehensive curriculums. Sra. Rogstad added that she looks forward to specifically helping high school students to have an open mindset in culture and exchange. “You can use language in any context, really,” she said. “You might not become a Spanish teacher to get a doctorate in Spanish, but whether you’re going to become a lawyer or scientist, knowing another language is going to help you by opening up your perspectives.” 

When asked about why she chose to join the Bishop’s teaching community specifically, she noted her appreciation for the pillars of episcopal identity and student attitudes. “I was excited to be in a space where not just academics were important, but also thinking about how we should develop as good humans,” she said. “Also, there’s a genuine curiosity and wanting to go beyond the minimum in learning with students here at Bishop’s… it’s really exciting as a teacher to have that.”

Sra. Rogstad’s mission in teaching Spanish lies within the many roles she has created for herself: as a facilitator, community builder, coach, contextualizer, and connector of students, texts, and people. “My primary goal as an educator is to create a space where all students feel seen, respected, and valued in our community,” she said. In every class, she puts care into incorporating a lot of informal times where casual conversation in Spanish takes place. She explained, “We can’t talk about big issues if we don’t know each other… in talking to each other and creating that community, it also makes those bigger issues more relevant because we can connect them to ourselves.” 

Students definitely see and appreciate the class community Sra. Rogstad has carefully built. “One thing I really appreciate about her classes is the welcoming environment,” Sophia Hayden (‘25), a Spanish Four Honors student noted. “Every time we meet, we take a moment to talk with each other as a class, discussing weekends, homework, or other activities in our day.” Bianca Zorilla (‘23), anotherlso a Four Honors student, added, “I personally feel like my speaking has already improved in the past few weeks! Sra. Rogstad is a very engaging teacher and welcomes different viewpoints during our discussions.”

Besides her life as an educator, she is also an artist and avid explorer of nature. “I didn’t study art in college, but it’s always been a passion of mine,” she continued, describing the art courses she takes outside of school in weaving, painting, and pottery. “I grew up in a really rural space where my grandparents even had a campground, so camping has always been a huge part of what’s important to me,” she said, “Also hiking and backpacking… I really like long walks, like exploring the Camino de Santiago and trails in Vermont, and hope to explore the John Muir Trail in California sometime in the next summers.” 

After her first few weeks of school, Sra. Rogstad has found a lot to love about Bishop’s. She started off by reiterating her appreciation for the positivity of the student body and added, “Also, definitely, my colleagues… the people in my department are super friendly and caring. Even when things are difficult in the first couple of weeks, they’re always there to support me!” 

Though she has been pretty busy so far, she still has many things to look forward to in her Bishop’s experience—some of such things involve going to sports games, musical events, and theater productions. “It’s always fun to see students shine in a different way than just in their classes… I’m really looking forward to seeing that!” 

So, next time, when you find yourself backpacking down the Upper Scripps halls and passing the Spanish classrooms, peek your head in her office—room 222—and say hi. Bienvenido, Sra. Rogstad.