Hispanic Heritage Teacher Profile, Mari Medina

Mari Medina

Mari Medina

Spanish Immersion Teacher in Takoma Park, MD

Mari is a dedicated and passionate educator. She currently teaches in the Spanish Immersion program at Rolling Terrace Elementary school as a first grade teacher. Both of her parents are from the island of Dominican Republic. Although Mari was born and raised in the United States, her family maintained a strong sense of their heritage and culture to ensure a purposefully balance within in their home. Mari’s Dominican-American upbringing would later help her draw from her own experiences as a second language learner. It would help her to connect and reach her future students who would also face the challenge of learning a new language within the school arena. Mari attended Columbia Union College in Takoma Park, MD and received her B.A. in Elementary and Early Childhood Education. She has served as a grade level team leader, co-leader for a boys mentoring program, and a tutor for the Commonweal Foundation an after school program which provides individualized literacy instruction for students who meet financial need criteria. Even during the weekends you will find Mari working with young children mentoring for young girls ages 5-16.

What inspired you to teach? I still remember my Kindergarten teacher and it was a pleasant memory. After learning all of the colors and identifying them by sight, I was given the opportunity to go in front of the class and hold up the color flash cards for students to recall. I was now helping my fellow classmates learn the colors. That was a powerful moment! It seems simple and most children could easily allow that memory to fade, but not only did it wake up a desire within, it changed me. I believe it was at that moment that I fell in love with teaching. Unbeknownst to my teacher, and myself at the time, that moment opened up my inner desire to keep on learning. I would continue learning so that I could share my knowledge with others. This teacher had found the code to unlock a shy and apprehensive student. Ever since then, I have wanted to recreate those moments and opportunities with as much frequency as possible to anyone I came in contact with, especially little ones. Today as a first grade teacher, I look to create that moment everyday for my students. I am not necessarily looking for the exact outcome that I received but I push to foster learning opportunities that lead to “aha moments, light bulbs going off, moments where persistence pays off, and moments of accomplishments and satisfaction at the end of the day. My students engage in meaningful class discussions, partner discovery, group work, fun and sharing, I also constantly seek to foster an emotionally safe classroom. I believe in empowering and encouraging my students to return to school the next day and do it all over again.

Why teach in the immersion program? As a child I remember my mother telling me how great it was that I was learning to read, write and speak English but that it was also equally important that I read, write and speak in my native language, Spanish. In conjunction with speaking Spanish in the home, every night my mother would read the Bible to us in Spanish. We would engage in great family discussions and Q&A and boy did it pay off. Up until my senior year of college I had never heard of immersion programs. When I was presented with the opportunity to join Montgomery County Public Schools and teach in my first language, I wasted no time in accepting the challenge. As I inquired more about the program, I learned that my future students would learn the language through the content areas of math and science. A majority of my students come from homes where English is the primary language. Many families have made the intentional decision to enroll their children in the program so that they would not only acquire a new language but learn an experience and value different cultures. When I see and hear my young students searching for the words and phrases to express themselves and their feelings, I am able to emphasize and apply not only the correct strategies I have learned as an educator but exercise patience and encourage them along the way.

Hispanic Heritage Month Teacher Profile, Vivian Gonzalez

Vivian Gonzalez

Music Teacher in Miami, Florida

Vivian Gonzalez began studying the violin at age 5. At age ten, Ms. Gonzalez made her solo debut with the former Philharmonic Orchestra of Florida.  She is a proud product of Miami Dade County Public Schools Magnet Programs and community music organizations. As a professional violinist, Ms. Gonzalez has performed for heads of state including former president Bill Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore. She has also performed with numerous South Florida orchestras including the Florida Grand Opera, Palm Beach Pops, New World Symphony, and can be seen on “Ray Charles – In Concert”, a benefit for Lighthouse for the Blind Miami aired on P.B.S.  Wanting to give back to the community that gave so much to her, Ms. Gonzalez became a Miami-Dade County Public School music teacher in 1999.  Currently, Ms. Gonzalez is a 2014 Grammy Music Educator Award Top-Ten Finalist teaching general and magnet music at South Miami K-8 Center. She also serves as the NAfME IN-Ovations Council Southern Representative, the FL-ASTA Awards Chair, and is a member of the editorial committee for the International Journal of Music Education: Practice.

Why do you teach? I teach because as a child my teachers were my angels, role models, and inspiration. I count myself truly blessed to be a product of Miami-Dade County Public Schools Magnet Programs and the surrounding community music organizations. I was raised by a teenaged-mom who would travel to the ends of the earth, in car, bus or on foot, to make sure that her daughters had every opportunity she could find for them and a Cuban-exile father who worked two and three jobs to provide for his family. My parents taught me to work hard, push myself, never take things for granted and to always be appreciative and humble. My music teachers taught me wonder, imagination, self-confidence, perseverance, community, and introduced me to the magic and joy of self-expression through music.

What do you love about teaching? Touching the lives of the students I teach is what I love most about teaching. Every day I am given the opportunity to positively impact the lives of the children in my class through music and show each of them that they can do and learn anything they put their minds to, as long as they are willing to work hard for it.  Music allows children to enter into a world of wonder, imagination and self-expression while also giving students the opportunity to learn risk-taking, accepting critique, discipline, focus, persistence, dedication, and perseverance. Music is a way of understanding and experiencing the world. Every day I look forward to sharing the world of music with my students.

When you were a student, was there a great teacher who inspired you? I was very fortunate to have many great teachers surrounding me from kindergarten to college. Every music teacher I had went above and beyond to help me continue my musical growth. Ms. Traeger, my very first music teacher in Kindergarten told my mom about a music magnet pull out program. She was generous enough to know about a special program and encourage my mother to have my sister and I audition for it. Mr. Mink, my first magnet music teacher, was a cultivator of magic. Judy Frishman, my first violin teacher, taught me for free for six years and arranged for Ms. Barbara Duffy to loan me instruments, because my family could not afford it. John Delancie made sure that I was given violin lessons through New World School of the Arts from sixth grade on. Dr. Lee Stone, my junior high string magnet teacher, drove me to New World School of the Arts when I was just in seventh grade to make sure that I played with their college level orchestra . Felicia Moye, who is basically my violin mom, did more things for me that I can possibly write. The Miami String Quartet took me under their wing and even let me travel with them from time to time. Margaret Pardee, who is my violin grandma, introduced me to the high expectations of the Juilliard School and wrote countless letters to me, especially after Hurricane Andrew to make sure that I was ok and still practicing. Pinchas Zuckerman graciously let his biggest, although at the time I was probably his shortest, fan play for him when I was just a teenager no less than four times. South Florida Youth Symphony made it possible for me to have played in Carnegie Hall, Miami Children’s Choir made it possible for me to sing in the children’s chorus of three operas, and the former Philharmonic Orchestra of Florida hosted my solo debut when I was ten. What more can one person hope for from a public and community music education? With so many teachers being so much more than “just teachers” it’s no wonder that I became one myself.

 

Hispanic Heritage Month Teacher Profile, Griselda Diaz

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Griselda Diaz

Fourth Grade Teacher in Elk Grove Village, IL

Ms. Diaz has been a District 59 teacher for 14 years and before that was a teaching assistant for 2 years. She obtained her Masters Degree in bilingual education since she knew early on that that was the field she wanted to specialize in. Ms. Diaz being Latina herself, felt the importance of providing our Hispanic students with a positive role model who can relate to them both culturally and academically. Since Day 1, she has been an advocate for her students and best teaching practices for our English Language Learners. Griselda taught 2nd grade for 5 years before pioneering the Title I program at Salt Creek. She had opportunities to work closely with the administration, staff and parents providing them with training and consultation. Ms. Diaz helped launch and taught the first years of the newly revised summer school literacy focused program “Jump Start”. The program was designed to do just that, giving students a jumpstart for the following academic school year. Ms. Diaz enjoyed her 6 years as a reading resource Title I teacher but missed the classroom atmosphere. She returned to the classroom and is currently teaching 4th grade. Griselda enjoys teaching all of the classroom subjects and incorporating literacy instruction throughout the day with her students. Her district’s mission is to prepare students for excellence and success. The teachers and administrators are creating 21st Century classrooms that promote creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking. This year all the students K-2 will have their own tablets as a learning resource tool. Students in grades 3-8 will be provided tablets and chrome books. Ms. Diaz has already incorporated technology throughout the day to reinforce her students’ learning and skill. The devices have also been a productive tool for communication with both the students and parents. Ms. Diaz feels that it is an exciting time in her district because she is able to teach her students that there are innovative ways to learn more about a topic and emphasize their own possibilities to become successful lifelong learners are endless.

Why do you teach? As cliche as this sounds, I teach to make a difference. I knew in high school that I wanted to make a positive impact on lives. Teachers have one of the most influential careers because they affect so many students’ lives over the years. Without teachers, we cannot have other professions such as doctors, lawyers, nurses etc. I sometimes think I need to rethink my profession because of its constant demands and hard work. Then I will have a deep or personal conversation with one of my students about problems that they are having at home or school or simply see their excitement about learning and I am reminded why I remain in this teaching profession.

What do you love about teaching? I love teaching because I see the difference I make in my students’ lives. I may not see it instantaneously or even during that school year, but I have had previous students now in High School or College coming to visit me at school and tell me how I made a difference. They may not be able to recall everything they learned that year they were with me, but they remember how I made them feel and how excited they were about learning. I have had returning students who have told me that they are going on to becoming teachers themselves because of me. It is so rewarding to know that I have inspired my students to seek out their own personal calling and to know that they still have a thirst for knowledge.

When you were a student, was there a great teacher who inspired you? Growing up, I had 2 teachers that inspired me. I could probably state one or two things I learned those years academically, but I could go on and on about the fun and exciting class projects that inspired my creativity and love for learning.

 

 

Hispanic Heritage Month Teacher Profile, Marciano Gutierrez

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Marciano Gutierrez

Social Studies Teacher in Mountain View, CA

A first generation college student, Marciano acquired a strong educational background by earning a B.A. in History, Summa Cum Laude, from California State University in Fresno with a certificate in nonprofit leadership. Soon after, Marciano was named a National Jack Kent Cooke Graduate Scholar and was awarded a full scholarship to Stanford University. At Stanford, Marciano earned a MA in Education with a professional preliminary teaching credential in Social Studies with English Learner Authorization. Marciano has put his extensive training to effective use as a social studies teacher at Alta Vista High School in Mountain View, CA. Marciano has firsthand experience with the transformative power of education, and strives to impart thought-provoking lessons upon his students in order to help them achieve globally competitive skills. Marciano’s illustrious list of achievements led him to be selected as the 2009 Region IV (Bay Area) Teacher of the Year by the California Continuation Education Association. In addition, a number of Gutierrez’s lessons have been featured in the California Continuation Education Association (CCEA) state newsletter and in the Alternative Education Principal’s Institute Handbook. In 2011, Gutierrez was awarded a Fulbright Study Fellowship to China and was also named a National Teacher Fellow with the Hope Street Group. In 2012, Marciano was selected as a United States Department of Education Teaching Ambassador Fellow in Washington D.C. In this role, Marciano helped facilitate communication between the Department and the nation’s teachers and provided a teacher’s perspective on national education policy as he worked with Secretary Arne Duncan and his senior staff.

Why do you teach? Education, quite literally, saved my life. A series of caring, passionate teachers provided me with an opportunity to become the first in my family to attend college and to not give into the negative social pressures and distractions of my neighborhood. I teach to provide my students, the majority of whom are kids of color and come from a background of poverty, an opportunity to earn a pathway to the middle class, as teachers had done for me years before. I teach because I want to show my kids that despite the challenges they face, they can do better, and I want to help them develop the necessary skills and knowledgebase so they can do just that

What do you love about teaching? As a teacher, I have received a number of accolades, but no honor or award reminds me of my purpose more than when I see my kids graduate. I teach at an alternative school that primarily serves students who have been identified as at-risk of dropping out. Everything I do in class is meant to help my students redefine their educational identity, so that they may see themselves as learners who are capable of greatness. Seeing my kids walk across the stage every June, embracing their new educational identities, makes the long hours and the many stresses of teaching worthwhile.

When you were a student, was there a great teacher who inspired you? There are a number of teachers who had a profound impact on my life. Ms. Julie Peterson pushed me to be a leader. Mr. John Hatch showed me that learning can be fun and engaging. Mrs. Nadine Takeuchi, followed my educational journey and encouraged me from second grade until graduate school. It takes my breath away, when I think of how different my life could have been had these individuals not been in my path.

 

Hispanic Heritage Month Teacher Profile, Raul Garcia

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Raul Garcia

Writing Seminar and Humanitites Teacher in Boston, MA

Raul Garcia is currently a writing seminar and humanities teacher at the Boston Arts Academy where he is entering his 14th year of teaching at Boston Arts Academy and his 18th year as an educator. Mr. Garcia has assumed various leadership positions while at the Boston Arts Academy, including the role of Humanities Department Chair and chair of the 10th Grade Writing team; as well as leading school-wide workshops on discipline training and teaching, literacy strategies, and project based learning practices. Mr. Garcia received his B.A. in Sociology and Latino/a Studies from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and later went on to obtain an Ed.M. from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. In 2012, Mr. Garcia was selected as a White House Champion of Change by the White House and the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

Why do you teach? I teach because the moment I enter a school building I know I am home. It is the place that has allowed me to be myself and also shown students that with hard work and dedication, they too, can realize their dreams and their true selves.

 

 

Hispanic Heritage Month Teacher Profile, Alma Ocampo-Nuñez

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Alma Ocampo-Nuñez

Bilingual Lead Teacher in Chicago, IL

Alma Ocampo-Nuñez was born and raised in Chicago, IL to her Salvadoran mother and Mexican father – who emigrated from their native countries in the 1970s. A product of the Chicago Public Schools, Alma went on to major in Elementary Education and Spanish at Northeastern Illinois University, graduating Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s degree in 2003.  That fall, she began teaching the 4th grade in the same school system that helped educate her. In her 7th year of teaching, she decided to pursue an advanced degree with the goal of expanding her knowledge-base and better serving the children in the community.  In 2011, she completed her Master’s Degree in School Leadership form Concordia University and also received her Administrative Certificate. Alma was compelled to work closer with the school and area leadership and Latino community to hopefully inspire students and parents to continue moving forward with their education- now and in the future.  She saw herself in so many of these children, and saw her parents in the many parents she met with. Realizing their own potential to act as leaders in the school and community and recognizing their hard work and commitment to their children’s education, she has helped facilitate the Bilingual Advisory Council.  Currently, Alma is the bilingual lead teacher and works primarily with Spanish bilingual students- grades kindergarten, 1st, 4th-8th.  In addition, she works with new student arrivals helping equip them with the resources they need to fully integrate themselves into the classroom. The Bilingual Advisory Council is made up of parents and has been recognized as a model for parent engagement. Alma feels “the most important part of her job is to advocate for these students and parents and to ensure they know they are an essential part of the school and community”.

Why do you teach?  I teach because I know that a teacher’s influence can be life-changing. Knowing this, I strive to be encouraging and to be part of a support system alongside the parents and my colleagues.

What do you love about teaching? Sometimes it takes years to learn the impact I have had on a student. I received this message a couple of years ago and I often read it, because it reminds me of the importance of my profession.

“Tomorrow I will be heading to college and I thought about all the things that lead me to this point in my life. I never got to take the time to really thank you for the impact you had on me. It’s funny how most people don’t realize the little things that can affect a person. Before I start school, I thought about all the things I have learned, all the things you told me, and how you inspired me to be who I am today.”

Hispanic Heritage Month Teacher Profile, Jose Rodríguez

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Jose Rodríguez

Leander, Texas

Rodríguez currently teaches ESL at Pleasant Hill Elementary in Leander, Texas. After completing his undergraduate education at Pan American University and receiving an Honorable Discharge from the United States Marine Corps, Rodríguez began his professional work as urban planner at the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council in South Texas. He later received his alternative teaching certification and began teaching in the Weslaco School District. Rodríguez taught 3rd and 4th grades at Cleckler-Heald Elementary before moving to Beatriz Garza Middle School where he taught 6th grade and 8th grade. In 2009, Rodriguez was invited by the U.S. Department of Education to serve as Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellow for one-year at ED Headquarters in Washington, D.C. The personal achievements of Rodriguez include an invitation by the U.S. Department of Education to serve as Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellow for one-year at ED Headquarters in Washington, D.C. In 2001, Rodríguez received Weslaco Schools’ District Teacher of the Year Award and the Outstanding Educator of the Year award from the League of United Latin American Citizens.In 2002, he was selected as a nominee for Region One’s Teacher of the Year in Texas. Rodríguez also contributed to the Middle Childhood Generalist Standards 3rd Edition, published in 2012 by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. In 2011, Rodriguez transported a twelve-foot oak tree from Austin to D.C. (over 1,500 miles) and planted it on the grounds of the Lyndon B. Johnson Department of Education Building in southwest Washington, D.C.; the tree serves as the official tree of the U.S. Department of Education.

Why do you teach? I teach because I enjoy working with young students. Their spirit keep me young and they teach me how to find wonder in the world.

What do you love about teaching? For the past 20 years, I have taught ELL students in grades Pk-8th grade. Many of these students were recent ELL immigrants from Mexico, Columbia, El Salvador, Chile, Nicaragua, Argentina, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Vietnam, South Korea, Jordan, and Lithuania. These same former students have gone on to graduate from university. They are now starting their careers and families. I love to teach because my students remind me of my family’s immigrant past and our nation’s collective immigrant family’s future in the United States; I love to teach because I am teaching the future of the United States.

When you were a student, was there a great teacher who inspired you? When I was a freshman in high school, I was inspired by a former Vietnam Veteran, Mark Brady, my world history teacher. I enjoyed being his student because he was a dynamic, interactive teacher that encouraged project-based learning long before this was an approach to teaching even before it had a name or on most educators’ radar in the early 1980s. More importantly, Mr. Brady encouraged us to think and questioned our thinking deliberately with respect, humor, and sincerity. I try to imitate Mr. Brady’s style of teaching everyday as a teacher.

Hispanic Heritage Month Teacher Profile, Sylvia Padilla

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Sylvia Padilla

4th Grade Bilingual Teacher in Long Beach, CA

Sylvia Padilla has been a bilingual teacher at Patrick Henry K-8 School in the Long Beach Unified District since 1991.  In 1989,  she was part of a parent grass roots group that pioneered  program at Patrick Henry meant to put bilingual students on equal footing with  their peers, helping them achieve academically as well as value their cultural heritage. The start of Patrick Henry’s Two Way Bilingual Immersion Program began with sixty kindergarten and first grade students, and today has grown to a school-wide k-8 program of over 700 students.  Señora Padilla now teaches fourth grade.  She has been awarded Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year and The California Association of Bilingual Education Teacher of the Year for collaborating at the school, district and state level to improve instruction, implementation and assessment of state standards in English and Spanish.  Sylvia earned her bachelor’s degree in liberal studies and a master’s in elementary education-reading and language arts from California State University Long Beach.  In 2012, Sylvia was selected as a White House Champion of Change by the President’s Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

Why do you teach?

I teach because I love to learn.  I teach with my heart, understanding that every child who crosses my path is important.  Every student  must be given the opportunity to reach their potential.

What I love about being a teacher is that I get to listen to students’ thinking.  My favorite saying is “Cada cabeza es un mundo”. “Each head is a world of its own”. Every child brings in knowledge that is to be shared and respected.  My role is to guide them, but every single one of my students is a teacher in my classroom.

What do you love about teaching?

I was inspired to be a teacher because I had hard-working parents who instilled in me the importance of education.  My parents did not have the opportunities we have in this great nation.  They instilled in all my brothers and sister a sense of pride in our Mexican heritage, as well as the importance of hard work. If we worked hard, we would be able to reach our dreams.  I tell my students every day that I am happy to see them, because I am living my dream.

When you were a student, was there a great teacher who inspired you?

I also had tough and caring teachers who made me work hard.  I will never forget Mr. and Mrs. Sloan, who taught me English at Van Nuys Jr. High School.  They encouraged me to improve and move into mainstream programs quickly.  In Van Nuys High School, the special education teacher, Marc Stephens took the time to encourage many of us to strive for a college education.  He started the ballet folklorico club and took any of us who were interested to see university campuses.  Many of us continued our studies and among us are teachers, school administrators, and college presidents.  Thanks to this man, who took the time to encourage me and even got my sister and I our first jobs as college aides, I continued to dream.

Yet the person who truly helped me the most was my husband.  He was a teacher, and when I married him, he became my support.  I attended school at night because I was a young mother.  My husband Rogelio would take over parenting duties so that I could reach my dream.  The day after I had our first daughter, along with the car seat, he also brought a letter from Long Beach State and told me I could now transfer and pursue my dream.  That kind of support and belief gave me the strength to never give up.  It took seven more years to finally have my own classroom.

 

I am truly living my dream every day!

Hispanic Heritage Month Teacher Profile, Christian J. Rubalcaba

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Christian J. Rubalcaba
5th Grade Writing Teacher in San Jose, CA

Christian J. Rubalcaba leads 5th grade classes as a Writing Teacher at Selma Olinder Elementary School (a TK-5th school) in the San Jose Unified School District. Christian entered the classroom rather unconventionally: once poised to pursue law school and simultaneously earn a doctorate in history, attendance to a number of events and speeches at the Harvard Graduate School of Education allured his attention, a moral awakening, which thus compelled him to plunge into the education sector via Teach for America in 2010. Guided by a blazing urge to serve Latino school communities and armed with a passion to stir the minds of young ones, Christian—or “Mr. R” as many of his students endearingly call him—has shared his love for poetry, literature, history, speech, law, and the written word since then. Christian believes in the power of parent engagement to help mold socially and civic-minded students and, effectively, he utilizes this very conviction as his impetus to visit the homes of all his students during the first month of each school year, in a classroom program dubbed “Mr. R’s Home-to-School Connection.” Furthermore, Christian serves as a representative on his school’s Leadership Team, as a voting member on his district’s Voluntary Integration Plan (VIP) committee that advises the Board of Education, and as a BTSA coach for entering new teachers. He has been nominated for Teacher of the Year Award the past four consecutive years. A Chicago native and Harvard graduate, Christian received his bilingual teaching credential from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA in 2011 and continues to work toward earning his National Board Certification through a National Board support group at nearby Stanford University.

Why do you teach? I teach because the multifaceted nature of an educator’s role, especially in an urban school setting: I can become a positive catalyst and exact change in a variety of ways, not only as an educator, but also as a school-parent liaison, as a community leader, as a college adviser, and as a role model, to name a few.

What do you love about teaching? I love teaching because of the direct and daily opportunity I have in empowering, inspiring, and challenging students.

When you were a student, was there a great teacher who inspired you? Yes; I vividly remember one of my high school AP Calculus teachers, Mrs. Delaney–a rare human being–who cared wildly about her students and taught with an uncommon brand of passion.

Hispanic Heritage Month Teacher Profile, Mauro Diaz

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Mauro Diaz

Casper, WY

Mauro Diaz is a National Board Certified Teacher currently teaching Life Science at Dean Morgan Middle School in Casper, Wyoming. He was born in Mexico and immigrated to the U.S. as a child. After completing a BA in English at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX, Diaz began a business career in Wyoming as manager of a manufacturing operation. After several years, he chose to pursue a career with greater personal meaning. Diaz obtained a BS in Biology from the University of Wyoming and, in 2002, was selected for the New York City Teaching Fellows program where he began his teaching career through an alternative certification process. He has focused his career at the middle school level. As a fellow, he taught seventh grade math and science at IS 162 in the South Bronx while completing a MS in Science Education. Diaz taught at IS 162 for 3 years before returning to Wyoming in 2005 to assume his current position.

Mauro believes strongly in the value of highly qualified teachers who work in the context of a large supportive environment as the means to helping students reach their potential.

Mauro’s personal achievements include National Board Certification in 2011 and the establishment of the Wyoming Education Summit in 2012 as a platform for National Board Certified teachers to discuss effective teaching and improving education in Wyoming. Mauro was a 2013-2014 Teacher Ambassador Fellow at the U.S. Department of Education. Mauro is currently serving on the board of directors for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Mauro also contributed to the development of the Teacher Leadership Competencies.

Why do you teach? I teach because an education is life giving.

What do you love about teaching? I love teaching middle school students because they are fun and willing to work hard.

Is there a teacher you had who inspired you? When I was a student I had two teachers who inspired me. My fourth grade teacher, Mr. Baca who continually encouraged me to believe in myself and my eight grade teacher, Mrs. Maddox who had our class create a geometric art project in math class.