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National Teacher Appreciation Day 2013

Dr. Raul Pacheco-Vega giving a seminar/ teachingWhenever I think of my past and how it influenced my career choice of being a professor now, I always come back to my childhood. When I was 11, I read somewhere that the literacy rate in Mexico was in the 90%, but I never really believed it (obviously, these rates may vary geographically and at sub-national scales it may be much lower). I always wanted everyone to have a chance at a better life, and because both my parents were academics, teachers and professors, and in time, my older brothers also became teachers and professors, I figured the best way to help people was from the start: teaching them how to read and write. Literacy programs have always been near and dear to my heart.

So, at 11 years old, one good day I stopped by the National Institute for Adult Education (INEA) offices in my parents’ hometown and asked if I could join their literacy programs. I chose a gang-riddled area, not because I thought I was tough, but because I figured urban areas with gangs probably were the ones where the most illiterate people would be (what naivete in a young kid!) and that’s where I wanted to have the most impact.

I conducted literacy programs from when I was 11 to when I turned 16 years old and I still would love to continue doing it. I also tutored kids in math, science and writing. I figured that I had the teaching gene (my late Aunt also was a teacher) in my bloodstream, so I might as well continue on. And since I was 11 and to this day (even with a full year of teaching release), I’ve continued to teach. I am a born teacher. I was born to help people learn and realize their goals.

I’ve always been honored and humbled when my current and former students praise my approach to teaching, not because I’m self-absorbed, but because I absolutely, completely and entirely love teaching. Even when I’ve had teaching loads of 2-1-2, I’ve always loved doing it because I always get to see and hear from my former students and I am a witness to their growth and success. I’m passionate about teaching because as I have told my students, there is method to my madness: I can’t change the world as I am but one person. But I can imprint their minds and their hearts with a passion for improving the world around them, and THAT will enable me to change the world: creating hopeful, hard-working and brilliant men and women who will in turn, contribute their little grain of sand to the construction of a better society.

In Mexico we celebrate Teacher’s Day on May 15th, and worldwide World Teachers’ Day is October 5th. But today is National Teacher Appreciation Day and I salute my fellow educators. Happy National Teacher Appreciation Day! Hat tips to my dear friend Lisa Thomas-Tench who alerted me to this momentous occasion.

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  1. Lisa says

    Fantastic article, Raul! I’m glad that you put your heart into teaching. Your students are grateful!

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