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Superior Glove employee heading to Honduras to teach English

The Acton resident is taking part in the company’s new program that will benefit its employees in Central America
(From left) Derek Neal, HR co-ordinator for health and safety at Superior Glove, Heather Larsen, global human resource partner and a key player in organizing the Honduras initiative, and Superior Glove president Tony Geng. Both Neal and Geng will be in Honduras for the first two weeks of the English program.

A local man is looking to start the new year by making a difference in the lives of children.

Derek Neal is one of four Superior Glove employees from across North America who will be teaching children English in Honduras starting Jan. 4.

The new English school program will run for four weeks in Villanueva, Cortes, where Superior Glove has opened two plants since 2018.

The experience is geared toward children of the company’s 340 employees as an alternative to childcare while local schools are shut down for winter break.

“I was excited for this opportunity because it’s a chance to get back into teaching,” said Neal, a former educator.

The Acton resident will be taking a break from his regular duties in human resources at the local Superior Glove facility and tapping into his teaching background to support 30 students, ranging in age from 9 to 15.

He has been busy preparing curriculum and gathering supplies for this undertaking. He will be there for the first two weeks, with American colleagues then taking over to complete the final stretch of the four-week English learning experience.

“The ambition is to do it every year if it goes well,” said Neal. “I will be bringing books, worksheets and curriculum materials. In the school Wi-Fi is limited, so we will be relying on worksheets.”

With learning English being an expensive undertaking in Honduras, Neal said the program is a way to create opportunity for the families of Superior Glove employees.

“It’s nice to be given the opportunity to play a significant role and make a difference in people’s lives,” he added.

Neal is also looking forward to seeing his Honduras-based colleagues Nelson Gomez, an HR manager, and Daniela Bueno, plant manager in real life for the first time instead of on Microsoft Teams. They are the ones in Honduras getting the physical space ready for students.

Originally from North Bay, Ont. Neal moved to Acton in 2011 when his wife secured a full-time teaching job there. The couple, both teachers, had made a deal that they’d move to wherever one of them landed a full-time position. After supply-teaching for a while, Neal decided to pursue a career in human resources. Now, he works at Superior Glove in his home community, which means no more long commute.

As the other Canadian helping Neal for the first two weeks in Honduras, Melanie Thomas, a sewing machine mechanic based in Newfoundland, said she’s honoured to participate in the launch of the English program.

“Knowing that this program will be life-changing for the students will also be a life-changing experience for myself and the other teachers participating,” she said. “I look forward to seeing the progress while we are there, and the growth of the program in the future.”

Tim Noethen, a Superior Glove territory manager in sales from Wisconsin who will serve as an instructor in Honduras, said he’s humbled and grateful knowing he will influence the development of these students and the possibilities of their potential for the future.

“This program provides me a sense of great service and dedication to Superior Glove, and to the families of these children that I will be teaching and guiding on their learning path.”

Emily Vigeant, Superior Glove’s marketing director based in Massachusetts, is also looking forward to teaching English and getting to know more of her colleagues who are further afield.

“Having programs like this help us broaden our team view while providing meaningful support to colleagues and their families,” she said.

Superior Glove is a Canadian family-owned business that started locally in the early 20th century. The company makes safety gloves, sleeves and other personal safety equipment. Today, it has production facilities across Canada, in the United States, Mexico and Central America.