Tom Broughton: Spanish Teacher on a Journey from Musician to Priest?
Alexander Landowski ’19
The opportunity to help others become better citizens and to lead them in the right direction propelled Tom Broughton to devoting his life, thus far, to becoming a teacher. Being able to use all of his gifts brought him to Strake Jesuit College Preparatory School this year.
Growing up in San Antonio with a younger brother and older sister, a young Tom Broughton developed a keen interest in music in an ironic way. After pulling a childhood prank on his new neighbor across the street and being ratted out to his mother, he was forced to apologize to the lady of that house. To his amazement, she was a woman who was an accomplished pianist that began giving him piano lessons shortly after the shenanigans that brought him embarrassment. This episode led to Mr. Broughton’s love of music, a great example of “how God speaks to people in crazy ways,” as Mr. Broughton told me.
In the fifth grade, Mr. Broughton befriended Joaquin, who inspired him to learn the Spanish language. With San Antonio being a heavily Spanish community, he found it to be a great influence in his life, and he developed a love for the study of language. His study of Spanish continued through his high school years, when he even taught himself some German and Russian.
While in high school, Mr. Broughton competed in classical piano competitions and was all set to attend college at North Texas State to further his music studies, but instead made a late decision to enroll at Sewanee, The University of the South, in Tennessee. Since Sewanee didn’t have a particularly strong music department, he turned his focus to a major in Spanish literature. He also added courses in French, enhancing his passion for his second love, the study of foreign languages.
Following graduation from college, Mr. Broughton briefly went to work in his father’s automotive business but found it uninspiring. Given his natural ability in mathematics, he accepted a job as a stockbroker, but was never truly comfortable with the salesman aspect of the job. Even while thinking that education was more the answer, Mr. Broughton obtained an MBA from UT-San Antonio and then secured a position as a portfolio analyst for the next couple of years. Still, he was not inspired by the work. “It just didn’t speak to me,” Mr. Broughton explained.
Soul searching led Mr. Broughton to want to emulate the role of his favorite actor, Robin Williams, in the Dead Poets Society. Just as he had received direction from his teachers in the past, he was motivated to become a mentor and educator of young people. His gift of language and knowledge of Spanish made his next career move an easy one.
Mr. Broughton’s first Spanish teaching job was at St. Thomas High School, which prepared him for the environment of an all boys school and increased his exposure to Catholicism. This brought about a curiosity for the faith, which ultimately led to his conversion of becoming a practicing Catholic. His admiration for the Catholic faith and deeper study of it has led him to ponder the idea of becoming a priest one day. For now, being guided by Ignatian spirituality here on the campus of Strake Jesuit is suiting him just fine. Along with teaching CCE courses at his local parish, his work here allows him to be a mentor of young people, much like that Robin Williams’ character he so admires.
The best example of what drives Mr. Broughton was an experience while at Saint Thomas High School. He came across a student who was overwhelmed by the work and in dire need of help in all subjects. Moved by the plight of this young man, Mr. Broughton volunteered to be his personal tutor without being paid anything for his services. “He was lost and needed to be found,” Mr. Broughton remarked. Saving this one particular student from failure was the most rewarding and single greatest experience in his teaching career he told me. “I loved helping him,” he said. It’s obvious that he will fit in just fine with our Men-for-Others motto here at SJ!