Karen a.k.a. Señora UP

Classroom Spanish Teacher, STU Contributor

Karen’s a purpose driven Spanish Teacher in California.

This year she’s teaching Spanish 1, 2 and a Women’s Alliance class. She also contributes to the Spanish Teacher Unite newsletter.

Meet Karen

Spanish Teacher for Social Justice

I am a Spanish Teacher for Social Justice.

I believe that all students can learn and it is my goal to help each and every individual in my care reach high levels of achievement. I believe that students come to the classroom with unique identities, experiences and backgrounds. I believe in celebrating who my students are and in empowering them to use their voice to change the world.

¡Hola! My name is Karen Urrutia Polnitz (Señora UP) and I love teaching!

I was born in Oakland, CA and moved to Coarsegold, CA when I was 12. In 2007, I graduated from Yosemite High School and moved to Santa Barbara where I earned my B.A. with a double major in Spanish and Theater with a Playwriting emphasis and a minor in Education and Applied Psychology from UC Santa Barbara. After returning to the mountain area, I worked as part-owner of and teacher at a dance and theater studio and as a substitute teacher for grades K-12. When a position opened up at Minarets High School to teach Spanish, I was thrilled to be selected for the opportunity and enjoyed every minute of my 4.5 years there.

While at Minarets, I developed my teaching technique and established strong curriculum for Spanish levels 1-3. I helped launch and advise Spanish Club, Dance Club, GSA and held space for weekly Wellness Wednesday lunch gatherings. Fulfilling my passion for the performing arts, I taught Introduction to Professional Dance at Minarets, and assisted with choreography for Minarets Drama musical productions. I continue to fuel this passion with participation in community dance and theater events.

Last year, I was honored to join the incredible teaching team at Edison High School. This year, I am teaching Spanish 1, Spanish 3, and Women’s Alliance. I am proud to teach and serve students in the city where I live and love being part of the Tiger community!

I live in Fresno, CA with my husband, Troy, our one year old son, Anthony and our four furry children, Lucy Chai and Stella Spice the dogs, and Joaquín Miguel and Eleanor Rigby the cats. I received my teaching credential from Fresno State University in 2017 and graduated with a Master of Arts in Teaching in 2019.


Spanish 1

Spanish 3

Women's Alliances

Articles & Posts

Travel Projects That Inspire

By Señora UP

Looking for new ways to have your students explore the Spanish-speaking world? Send them on a trip! 

Pride Month Every Month

By Señora UP

Pride month may be over but pride continues, all year long, every day, and every minute. This fall, when our students fully return to in person instruction, will pride continue in your classroom?

Student Work & Project Examples

By Señora UP’s students


Karen in Spanish Teachers Unite

How Karen Inspires Students with Travel

Looking for new ways to have your students explore the Spanish-speaking world? Send them on a trip! 

Using Music to Improve Reading Skills

We asked three teacher how they use music be to improve students reading skills. Read their responses here.