I was born in a small town in southeastern Arizona (Safford) about a mile south of the Gila River. My parents lived in Bryce (a suburb of Safford) and farmed cotton for about a year then we moved to Chandler (south of Phoenix) for a year and then to Wellton in southwest Arizona near Yuma where my dad again farmed and I spent the next seven years. My dad had several Mexican farm workers and I remember how impressed I was that he could actually communicate with them in their language. I consider this my first exposure to Spanish.

From Wellton/Yuma we moved to west Phoenix (Maryvale) where I lived for eleven years and attended Maryvale High School. My Spanish teacher (Señora Sagarino) gave all her students a Spanish name on the first day of class. Unfortunately, she had no translation for my first name (Scott) so she somehow decided that “Mateo” would have to do. For two years, in her class, I went by the name of “Matthew”.

At twenty-one, I had decided to work as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints and was assigned to work for two years in Colombia. I received two months of language training at Brigham Young University and then in March of 1972, I found myself stepping off an airplane in Bogotá. This was the beginning of a great adventure for me and a time when I really began to appreciate being able to communicate ideas in Spanish to non-English-speaking people.

When I completed my mission in Colombia, I began my college studies at Brigham Young University and in 1975, while still a student, I began work as a language instructor at the Language Training Mission and later the Missionary Training Center on the campus of BYU. This position I held for two years and was key to my decision to change my college major to Education. In 1978 I received a B.A. degree in Bilingual Elementary Ed. and four years later I returned to BYU and later completed a Masters degree in Curriculum Development. My choice for a thesis was the development of a curriculum guide for teaching basic Spanish.

I began teaching in Utah public schools in 1978 in Springville and Payson and then St. George. I also have taught at Dixie Sun Elementary for seven years. Which by far was my most challenging school but also the most rewarding. At this Dual Immersion school, I was required to teach the curriculum in Spanish each day. The challenges were immense but the opportunities were equally great as well. My experiences here allowed me daily contact with Hispanic parents, children, and peers who helped me fine-tune my Spanish and take my communication abilities to the next level. For this, I am truly grateful.

In 2000, I began teaching basic Spanish adult classes in the evenings for Dixie State College Community Ed. I determined that because of the remoteness of Washington County, such a class would only last for a few years then I would have to give it up because of lack of students. So far, the enrollments have been steady and the classes continue to have success.

In 1975 while at school, I met the love of my life, Diane Peterson, and one year later we were married. We have six beautiful children and eleven wonderful grandchildren.