Hellgate Spanish teacher wins Missoula Educator of the Year

Skylar Rispens

In the five years he’s been at Hellgate High School, Milton Zhinin-Barreto has made a lasting impact on Spanish students by adding his lived experience into engaging lessons.

Hellgate High School teacher Milton Zhinin-Barreto is named High School Educator of the Year by the Missoula Education Foundation.


On Thursday, Zhinin-Barreto hopped to his feet and ran down the aisle of the school auditorium as his colleagues delivered a standing ovation for his recognition as the Missoula Education Foundation’s High School Educator of the Year.

“This is going to be the highlight of my year,” Zhinin-Barreto said.

Originally from Ecuador, the engineer-turned-teacher traveled between his home country and the United States for many years before taking a job at Hellgate. Now, he teaches multiple sections of Spanish classes.

His personal experience and knowledge of South American and Latin American culture make his lessons engaging and difficult to forget, according to many remarks from students who nominated him for the award.

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“I really enjoyed what the students had to say,” Zhinin-Barreto said. “I really, really appreciate that, hearing it was just really

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