Norka Maldonado, 58, Spanish teacher at Friends Select

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Norka Rosario Maldonado Moreno

Norka Rosario Maldonado Moreno, 58, of Philadelphia, a respected Spanish teacher, died Monday, July 20, of cancer at her home.

Born in Lima, Peru, to Sergio Maldonado and Delia Moreno, she moved to this country in 1988.

Starting in 2002, Mrs. Maldonado taught Spanish at Friends Select School. She expected her students to speak Spanish during class.

If they were caught speaking English, they got sprayed with a water bottle, and if they acted out, the students had to bring in sweets for the whole class the next day.

All these measures only added to her popularity, said her husband, Craig Robbins. Mrs. Maldonado loved the students and got to know many outside the classroom, he said.

She was an organized, willful person, he said. When she knew that she was dying, Mrs. Maldonado said goodbye to family, dictated notes to friends, and gave precise instructions for future actions.

Though the family was devastated to lose her, "there is much to admire, treasure, and celebrate about Norka's life," her husband said.

She earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and a graduate degree from Washington University.

Mrs. Maldonado's teaching career began in the 1970s, when she taught English to Peruvians in Lima. She went on to teach Spanish at Nerinx Hall High School in Webster Groves, Mo., from 1994 through 2001, and then moved to Friends Select.

She "woke up every morning looking forward to her day at school with 'her kids' at Friends Select," her husband said.

Her favorite pastime was reading on the beach.

In 1992, she married Robbins, executive director of ACTION United. Their daughter, Zina, was born in 1997.

Besides her husband and daughter, she is survived by three sisters; two brothers; three nieces; and three nephews.

A memorial service is to be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 8, in the Friends Center at the Race Street Friends Meetinghouse, 1501 Cherry St. A reception will follow at Friends Select. Burial was private.

Donations may be made to the Norka Maldonado Fund for Financial Aid, Friends Select School Development Office, 1651 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia 19103. Checks should be made out to the school and directed in the subject line to the fund.


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