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Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: Erico Ortiz

Erico OrtizI was born in Cayey, Puerto Rico, and came to Milwaukee as a baby.  I attended Cass Street School and Lincoln Jr. High School on Milwaukee’s east side.  My high school years were spent at Riverside High School where I studied Spanish to learn to speak and write it fluently.  Because of my Puerto Rican heritage, I became heavily involved in my local area church, St. Francis of Assisi, where I became a member of the Spanish Choir.  I participated in the Iberian Spanish Dancers, a local dance troupe.  During my college years at Marquette University, I learned to play guitar and become the director of both the Spanish Choir and the newly formed youth choir, that consisted of gospel, folk, and Spanish liturgical music.  I spent a year in Madrid, Spain, studying Spanish literature.

As a Spanish teacher at Riverside University High School, I taught in the Bilingual Education program for ten years because I felt the need to help Latino students to embrace their own language.  I helped create and co-directed a high school Hispanic dance troupe, sharing dances from Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Spain, which ultimately led to my being assigned the position of drama director.  During a sabbatical, I studied Spanish literature and returned to MPS as a supervisor, charged with the opening of Lincoln Center Middle School of the Arts.  This led to Assistant Principal positions at several MPS schools until my retirement in 2011 and ultimately to my opening of Inspiration Studios, an art gallery and performance venue that has featured art exhibits and performances by many non-Latino and Latino artists, including flamenco dancers and musicians.

riverside high school logoErico Ortiz
Inspiration Studios

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