The Student Site of Castilleja School


The Student Site of Castilleja School


The Student Site of Castilleja School


Gender across language, a love for spoken word and modern Inca art with Yamel Núñez-Castro

Ruby Dowling

Yamel Núñez-Castro is a new English teacher who teaches English I in addition to AT literature of immigration. Her interview enlightened me to a whole new way of thinking about English by pulling from different disciplines like art and different languages. 

Yamel Núñez-Castro is a new teacher for English I and AT literature of immigration this year. (Eve Snyder)

Who was your favorite of your teachers when you were a student? What impact did they have on you? 

My senior year English teacher, who went by “Brother B.” Every class, he would start with a poetry reading, either of his own or another poet that he liked. Or many times he would invite a student. He’d ask, “What are you working on?” And I love that he always assumed that we were always writing poetry, even if we weren’t. The podium was always open. And he really inspired me to love literature and love it out loud.



What books are on your nightstand and/or coffee table right now?


I have a ton of art books. And, for instance, Patti Smith’s “Book of Days.” It’s a book of photographs. Another one is the art of H.R. Geiger. He did the artwork for the “Alien” franchise. I need things that are strange to look at. It sounds weird, but I need that before bed and when I wake up, because it just helps me tap into new ideas and perspectives. 


What is the most impactful interaction you’ve had with a student? 


When I used to teach Spanish, I really did try to make it inclusive. I remember having a conversation about pronouns, because Spanish is a very binary language. I was teaching one-on-one at the time, and I said, you can have the A, you can have the O. But I showed them, there’s the option of E and X. And their response to me afterwards completely blew me away because they basically came out to me as non-binary. I felt like I really served that student in that moment, which is a good feeling.


What is a “fan-favorite” part of your teaching style? In other words, what is it about your classes that students love? 


I’m a very open and flexible person. I’m a very dynamic person, and my teaching often reflects that. But it’s like a tennis match. I’m going to serve the ball, and I require you to hit it back with equal force. I think that for some students, the ones that like the open discussion, it can be very fun. But it can also be intimidating to the other students that are not as big fans of that kind of setup. So I am actually working right now on incorporating a bit more structure because I want everybody to have a way of contributing.


When you were a little kid what did you want to be when you grew up?  


Painter. I was sure I was going to be either a painter or a fashion designer. Those were my two options.


What is your favorite piece of media (books are quite apt but also movies, tv shows, whatever is fine) and why? What impact did it have on you? 


There’s this really fantastic Chilean artist, Cecilia Vicuña. The ancient Inca had a way of accounting for all kinds of things. It was a system of knots called Quipu. But she brings it back in giant form. She makes a giant Quipu hanging from the ceiling or brings it out as performance art. 


What is one thing you are obsessed with right now? 


You guys. I’m a new teacher and I teach three sections of English I and one section of seniors. I’m so bad with names but I remember faces. I’ve been telling my students, because it’s true, [that] I’m starting to dream of my students. [It’s] the most boring, mundane stuff but the faces are there. I think it’s just my mind is super curious about this world and who you guys are and what I can do for it.

This story is part of the series “Q&Avery” by Counterpoint on new teachers around the circle this school year.

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About the Contributors
Avery Neuner
Avery Neuner, Editor of Opinions
Avery Neuner ‘24 is the Editor of Opinions for Counterpoint. She has been writing for Counterpoint for three  years and has been a writer her whole life. In addition to journalism, she is a published author in short story and poetry.

Ruby Dowling
Ruby Dowling, Editor-in-Chief
Ruby Wright Dowling ’24 is an Editor-in-Chief of Counterpoint. She attended the Medill-Northwestern Journalism Institute in 2023 and is now an editorial intern at the Los Altos Town Crier. When she’s not reporting, Ruby enjoys scorekeeping at baseball games—especially when the Red Sox are in town.
Eve Snyder
Eve Snyder, Editor of Photography
Eve Snyder ‘24 is the Editor of Photography for Counterpoint. She enjoys creating still life and photomontage pictures, as well as taking portraits. When she’s not photographing, she’s rock climbing, making jewelry or painting her nails.

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