Mr. Eng

Spanish Department, Spanish

Mr. Johnnie Eng, Spanish Teacher

Mr. Johnnie Eng

August 26, 1944 - December 12, 2007

Obituary Below

"He is beloved by all of his students, colleagues, the AH community, and throughout the LOTE professional ranks. Johnnie has been everything our wonderful profession is about and stands for; truly a remarkable gentleman whose mark on countless others will remain always. Even in this time of grief, Johnnie continues to stir our joy. Prayers will be abundant for Johnnie and his family, not only for comfort and strength, but for the joy in celebrating his life." - Dr. C

As we entered AHHS in 1967, Mr. Johnnie Eng also began his teaching career at Alamo Heights.  We enjoyed seeing Mr. Eng at our 30th Reunion, and more recently, at his retirement party.

Mr. Eng retired from Alamo Heights in May 2003.

"Article: " Spanish Teacher of the Year Remains Modest"

Other Awards:
Teacher of the Year ~ Texas Foreign Language Association
Outstanding High School Teacher of the Year ~ University of Texas Ex-student's association

Contributions are accepted by the Alamo Heights ISD Foundation, 7101 Broadway, San Antonio, TX 78209 for the Johnnie Eng Excellence in Teaching Fund, established by his former students at his retirement in 2003.

Excerpt from Obituary:
Johnnie Eng, a San Antonio resident for many years, passed away, Dec. 12, 2007. He was born in Laredo, the son of the late Harry and Evangelina Eng on August 26, 1944. His childhood was spent in Laredo where he graduated from Martin High School in 1961 and received an Associate of Arts degree from Laredo Junior College in 1963. He received his BA in History and Spanish from the University of North Texas in 1965 and a Master in Teaching Spanish degree from Trinity University in 1985.

He taught for 35 years at Alamo Heights High School after teaching 4 years in the Fort Worth Public Schools.

He was active in various organizations and held offices in them. He held the offices of Secretary, President-Elect and President of the Texas Foreign Language Association.
He served as President and Treasurer of the Alamo Heights Teachers Association, President, Treasurer, and National Spanish Exam coordinator for the San Antonio de Béjar Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese, as a Table Leader for the grading of AP examinations, was part of the Spanish Test Development Committee, conducted numerous seminars for the College Board in the United States and Buenos Aires, Argentina; San José, Costa Rica; and London, England, and was a member of the Retired Teachers of Alamo Heights ISD.

In 2001, he received an Excellence in Teaching Award from the University of Texas Ex-Students Association and the Department of Education of the University of Texas; was named Teacher of the Year by the Texas Foreign Language Association; and National Spanish Teacher of the Year by the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese.

Read full Obituary in S.A. Express News Obituary

May 2003 - Retirement Party
A note from Lynn Erben Gillaspie
~ . . . had a great time celebrating Sr. Eng's retirement after 35 years at AHHS . . . lots of people there to celebrate with him & all of us were blown away at the "details" of our classes that he recalled . . . Such as he told Mark Jacobs & I what period we had him, who was in our class . . . etc. It was incredible . . . also saw Mrs. Ransom, one of the English teachers from way back when . . . Susan (McCullough) & Ernie Altgelt were there . . . they looked great . . . had a wonderful visit with Dr. Mark Jacobs, Lyn Straus Selig, Cynthia Cooper, and so many more . . . it was really fun . . .

Mr.Johnnie Eng and Mr. Jerry Christian ~ Ms. Elizabeth Ames

the Honoree

The Eng Family

Mr. Eng is loved by many

Mr. Eng! one of my favorite teachers! and he is still teaching (2002/2003 is his last year) and is teaching my youngest son! I remember the first day of his class....Mr. Eng for Spanish.....I was in class with Cos Luchese! Mr. Eng was so good and smart but I just did not get it.....esp all of the conjugating verbs.....I made an F on my final in May and called him from Suzi Sledge's house asking why he had done that....cause I knew my dad would come unraveled....he said it had not done that much damage to my average...anyway, thru the years, I would run into him at Mi Tierra's or in an elevator somewhere and he always remembered me.

Then, when my son Marty went to Spanish this year as a freshman, he was put in Mr. Eng's Soph level Spanish. We had a great reunion at Back to School Nite....and he is a favorite of Marty's......and Mr. Eng looks just like he did the year he started at AH.....he has been written up as teacher of the year and several other awards.
~ Lynn Erben Gillaspy

Mr. Eng in 2001 - Teacher of the Year

Alamo Heights teacher gets national award
05/30/01 Wednesday Neighbors - South/East 01H - News - Local Metro
In high school, a teen-age Johnnie Eng took charge when he and his friends studied together.
"I've always been a teacher of some sort," Eng said, recalling those days. "I always knew I wanted to teach."

Starting his career early, however unofficially, served Eng well. During a teaching career that spans 37 years, 33 of them teaching Spanish at Alamo Heights High School, he has garnered state and national awards. Most recently, the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese named him the national Spanish teacher of the year.

"I really don't know that I do things out of the ordinary," Eng said. "I observe that which works for other teachers . I try to incorporate that into my own teaching, and I share it.

"I think there are so many teachers in the classroom who don't get the recognition because they have not had the opportunities I've had," he added.

In the classroom one morning, he answered students' questions repeatedly but with large reserves of patience, explaining diphthongs and accent marks over and over until they were clear.

Around the room, posters showcased Spain, Peru and a timeline of the history of South America.

Eng said every three years he tries to clean out his cluttered room, but still his storage space overflows.

"I hate to get rid of the things the kids have made because it reminds me of them," he said.

Today more students take advanced classes than when he started teaching, Eng said. And those classes tend to be more practical, with an emphasis on vocabulary and speaking, than in the past, when grammar ruled.

"They realize the importance of it," he said. "Some of them have jobs at the mall, and they come in contact with people from Mexico."

Dr. Thomas Kingman, a brain surgeon and former Alamo Heights school board president, was not so modest in praising his former teacher , who also taught his sons.

"It's about time," Kingman said, when told an article was being written about Eng. "Johnny's not going to wave his own flag. It's not his way."

When asked what makes Eng great, Kingman said, "He's tremendously compassionate. Everyone enjoys being in his classroom."

Alamo Heights students know that with Eng they have "an ally in the classroom."

"My memories were not of Johnny teaching Spanish but Johnny helping me cope with being a high school junior and senior in the immediate post-Vietnam era," Kingman said.

Eng has expanded his school duties of late with his pet project, Los Primerizos, that he and fellow Spanish teacher Melva Manzke formed to work with students who are the first in their families to go to college. Eng relates to them, having been the first in his family to go as well.

The teachers help the students write college application essays, study for admission tests, find and apply for scholarships - whatever they need to become a higher education student. Eng estimated about 20 students are involved.

"He has such a wonderful heart," Manzke said, standing in Eng's classroom. He blushed as she spoke. "No matter what situation students find themselves in, he works with them."

The best of his job, though, Eng said, is not all the awards - teacher of the year from the Texas Foreign Language Association, outstanding high school teacher of the year from the University of Texas Ex-student's association, among others - but the chance to teach in a place like Alamo Heights .

"I get to be in a school where parents are supportive, where students are interested in learning, and with a faculty and staff that is outstanding in all that they do," he said.

HERE'S A TERRIFIC NOTE FROM JOHNNY ENG, who was my 9th grade journalism student at Christen around the same time that Julia Vera was my dance student there, in the mid 50's. Johnny was named last year as the National Teacher of the Year in Foreign Language. In retirement now, he is going to continue his work with the SAT org. (BTW, Johnny's family owned the Shanghai Cafe downtown Laredo, across from the Old City Hall, near Rolando Lopez's Hard Times Cafe now.)

Johnny says: "I retired this year after 39 yrs. of teaching (35 at Alamo Heights High School.) Former students held a reception for me and about 300 people attended. At the ceremony, they revealed that they had endowed an academic chair in my honor--the Johnnie Eng Chair for Excellence in Teaching. Their goal is to raise $500,000 (yes--1/2 million) to fund this chair. They sent out some feelers to members of the community and 20 families contributed $150,000 before they announced this honor to me. I have asked around and no one has ever heard of an academic chair in a high school. I was so touched by their effort. It is extremely nice to be liked."

Dr. Neo Gutierrez <>
Los Angeles, Cal USA - Sunday, July 13, 2003 at 22:25:24 (CDT)