Jon Dicus Discovered Passion for Education Through Travel Experiences


Sofia Perlman

Dicus plans on taking time to travel and spend time outdoors before he decides on how he wants to continue his career.

Sofia Perlman, Copy Editor

For 31 years, Jon Dicus has brought energy and passion to his classes at the Upper School. Through his travels and experiences, Dicus found a passion for the Spanish language as well as working with young people before he ever became a teacher. After studying French for many years, Dicus began learning Spanish in college in order to do anthropology research in Costa Rica. He says, “I had a fantastic experience [in Costa Rica]. Although I had enjoyed French, something clicked with Spanish and I came back for my senior year and I took more Spanish.” After graduating college, Dicus worked as a Spanish camp counselor at Concordia Language Villages for six years where his interest in education grew. Before he began teaching at Blake, Dicus went on an eight-month backpacking trip through Mexico and Central America. His Spanish speaking skills greatly improved over the course of his travels. “Those experiences kind of showed me that I like working with young people, and education could be a field that I could go into. Up until then, I didn’t really know quite what I wanted to do,” Dicus explains.   

Dicus has taught every Spanish class except for Spanish 1 as well as Latin American Studies and Human Geography. He has enjoyed teaching at Blake partly due to the character of the students. He says, “The students are interested, they’re engaged, they’re willing to do the work.” Dicus also emphasizes his appreciation for his colleagues, noting, “They’re all really passionate and they’re all really interesting people and I’ve met a lot of great friends teaching here.” 

The school has given Dicus the freedom to personalize his classes, as well as many valuable opportunities. “There’s a fair amount of autonomy for teachers to [add to the curriculum]. Blake has given me a lot of professional development opportunities. Funds to travel, go to conferences, present at conferences, and I’ve done all of that.” Dicus was also able to create his own study abroad program for students where they traveled to Central Mexico’s monarch butterfly hibernation sanctuaries. He also initiated a bike trip to Northern Argentina with 16 students. 

Eva Mateo, Spanish teacher and longtime colleague of Dicus, will greatly miss Dicus’ presence after his retirement, she says, “He can always find a way to connect with people. Working with him is great because he’s always willing to support you. He always works to make things better for the department, and I think he does the same thing with the students.”  

Dicus plans on taking time to travel and spend time outdoors before he decides on how he wants to continue his career.