Our Community - Teacher Hermojenes “Moncho” Acosta

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 17, No. 2            January11, 2007

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Teacher Moncho, as he is affectionately known, is a dedicated community man, great BBQ chef and inspiring teacher who finds the good in all!

A common excuse used by many for not getting involved more in this community has been “I really don’t have the time.” This week, The San Pedro Sun brings to you a resident of the island that, although having a full time job, has also MADE time for others and to do the things he enjoys most – Hermojenes “Moncho” Acosta.

    Moncho was born in the peaceful village of San Pedro on August 5th, 1966. He enjoyed a very happy childhood with his five brothers and two sisters. Moncho attended San Pedro Roman Catholic School and San Pedro High School graduating in 1984. Immediately after graduation, Moncho went to work as a cashier at the Ice House and then as an insurance salesperson. One year later, Moncho was given the opportunity to teach at the Roman Catholic School. At first he was skeptical but ended up giving it a try. His first class, Teacher Moncho recalls, was Standard III. He was immediately inspired and developed a great liking for his students and for the teaching profession. Starting out as a “pupil” teacher, Moncho knew he had room for improvement and began studying for his First Class Teacher’s Degree. Mr. Acosta spent thirteen years as a pupil teacher, in actuality, a student himself, learning more every day. After taking the required exams which included child psychology, practice teaching, methodology and various other subjects, he was certified as a First Class Teacher in 1998. Teacher Moncho still works with the children of San Pedro Primary School as if it were his very first day. He continues to expand his knowledge of teaching through study, having enrolled in a “distant” education program at the University of Belize and through various workshops. In addition to his day job, Mr. Acosta also tutors English as a second language to adults in the evenings.

    Moncho is also known as the “Chef Pepin” of San Pedro. During his high school days, he was the main “chef” for the school’s fundraiser. Barbecuing became a hobby for him and so many of his friends enjoyed his cooking that they suggested he share his delectable cuisine with the residents and tourists. He took their advice and started selling chicken barbecue every Saturday and Sunday from outside his father’s grocery store on Caribeña Street. This finger-licking enterprise soon became a great success and shortly after, Moncho increased his menu to include pork chops and ribs. Now, although moved to another location on Cormorant Street, close to Isla Bonita Elementary, even more people have the opportunity to sample Chef Moncho’s creations as he provides his savory barbecue at many traditional functions and holidays. Everyone can tell that the grill is on not only by the succulent, mouth watering aromas emanating from it, but also from the music blaring from his radio. Moncho is the friendly chef, the one offers you a chair and listens to your stories while your meal gets ready. His proudest culinary moment came though, when he was awarded second prize in Belize’s Kraft Cooking Competition for his succulent lobster and chicken barbecue. Moncho’s food was well received at this event as chefs from around the country presented their creations using Kraft products. Today, Moncho’s fine barbecue can also be contracted for private parties.

    Mr. Acosta takes much pride in working closely and hand in hand with the Scouts Association. After being approached by the principal of the elementary school to head the Scouts Association of San Pedro, Moncho did not much time to think and gladly accepted. Full of energy and being a true leader, Moncho was deemed the perfect candidate for this position. Mr. Acosta was willing to oblige. He felt that by instilling leadership skills and values in the children they would be encouraged to engage in healthier activities. In order to prepare for this new task, Moncho traveled to Belize City and completed the courses required by the Scouts Association. Already his group is active with 23 very eager members. Through this medium, Moncho invites children between the ages of 10 and 15 who are interested in joining the Scouts to contact him. “The more, the merrier,” commented Mr. Acosta.

    With so much on his plate, Moncho does not neglect the most loving aspect of his life, his family. Together with wife, Socorro, he enjoys days of relaxation at home in the company of his children, Juliana, Hermojenes “Monchito” Acosta, Beverly, Ernesto, Robin and Andrew, and his one grandchild, Zachary.

    Hermojenes Acosta is determined and has shown that, indeed, one can accomplish anything they set their mind to. He is an exemplary educator, loved and respected by the many children and adults of this island. Chef Moncho is a wonderful cook, dedicated to his “hobby,” and assures that his clients are satisfied. He is also a leader who hopes to make a difference in the lives of many young people of this island. All in all, whatever role you see him in, Moncho Acosta is a fine example of the leadership spirit that keeps the people of “Our Community” cookin’!

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