Together with fellow cultural exchange educator Filipino Shiry Canillas, right, Mr. Hermosa knows ‘It’s great to be a Sully Buttes Charger.’

Philippines native Leo Hermosa arrived shortly after the start of the 2022-2023 school year to accept a five year contract teaching elementary Special Education in Blunt.

He attended public university, and when it came time to choose his track, Hermosa says he chose special education because, “I have a big heart for children with special needs. They need so much care and understanding.” He additionally says that he settled on teaching elementary students over secondary students because of the milestones they are achieving. “I help them with building foundations.”

In the Philippines, Hermosa’s home was in an urban area near the capital city of Manilla, so he has spent his first few months here “adjusting to the weather and how to communicate with people without being shy.”

“People here in Blunt are so accommodating,” said Hermosa. “Even though they don’t know you, they greet you and are very helpful. We don’t do that in my country unless we know each other.”

His contract with Sully Buttes started his ninth year as a teacher. He pursued the opportunity to teach here to experience a new culture, and to “help my family financially.”

At home in his free time, being a portrait artist was his hobby. “I am more into abstract drawing,” said Hermosa. “I’ve been practicing to do realistic stuff.”

Saying he is “not a sporty person, I’m more into fine arts,” Hermosa, encouraged by his colleague Dianna Knox to take up a new hobby, has been watching online videos to learn to play violin. “Dianna is really helpful,” said Hermosa. “She told me I should also go for lessons with Moriah [Gross]”

There are 103 dialects in the Philippines with Tagalog being the main one. English is not Hermosa’s primary language, and he says he is still adjusting to having his mouth catch up with his brain in order to speak the words in his mind. “I write notes in choppy English, just little reminders so I remember,” said Hermosa. “The children need me to help with English Language Arts stuff.”

In addition to his teaching certificate, Hermosa is also certified in American Sign Language. He calls himself “a bit” of a techie, and has his own YouTube channel for makeup tips. He has created a video Social Studies lesson for third grade students in which he is wearing his national costume.

He set as a goal while at home traveling to all parts of the country, “from south to north. This is my first time out of the country.” Hermosa says he intends to take a vacation next year to return to the Philippines for his mother’s 60th birthday, and doesn’t rule out continued travel and cultural learning in another country. “I would do the teaching exchange in another country,” said Hermosa. “I’m fascinated with Spain, so maybe in Europe.”

Hermosa says that he enjoys working throughout the day with his twelve students who range from grades preschool to fourth.