Posted inEducation

Mrs. Ochoa: Guiding Students

Mrs. Ochoa’s academic journey is a testament to her unwavering dedication. She holds an associate’s degree in Interdisciplinary studies from STC, a Bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of Texas Pan American, and a Master’s degree in creative writing from UTRGV. Currently, she is pursuing a doctorate degree in curriculum and instruction from the same college, showcasing her relentless pursuit of knowledge. 

What truly sets Mrs. Ochoa apart is her unwavering positivity. 

Ochoa views education as a grand, lifelong journey, a “platform to ignite students’ thirst for knowledge. Her optimism and passion are evident in her unwavering support for her students, creating a nurturing classroom environment. 

She has been a teacher for 16 years in the district of La Joya. 

A memorable moment that my teacher has and will always remember is when, during her first year of teaching, one student ended up pursuing the same path that she went through. That student got a bachelor’s degree in communication, and it just made her feel good that she taught a student who felt inspired to pursue the same path that Mrs. Ochoa went through. 

The teacher has always been interested in pop culture, and that influences the way she teaches in a big way. That interest makes her teaching styles fun and interactive, and they include themes/topics that students enjoy. That influence makes students like her more as a teacher since she doesn’t use doesn’t boring teaching methods; instead, she uses methods that make the class enjoyable. 

Mrs. Ochoa says, “I feel like I’ve always been a teacher at heart.” As the eldest sibling in her family, she has always tended to help and care for her family and others. 

Being a teacher has shaped her perspective on education. Mrs. Ochoa says, “Being a teacher inspires me to always have perspective for my students and to have an open mind because the world that we live in today is very fast-paced.”

Posted inStaff Profile, Education

The undying flame of hard work: The business journey of Yesenia Torres  

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Featured Teacher

From orange picking to a Whataburger employee to a business teacher, hard work is a staple of Torres’ life. Her academic journey is one of dedication, novelty seeking, and time management.
Since she was 13 years old Torres picked oranges with her family on Saturdays and Sundays while simultaneously going to school during the week.
“My biggest challenge is that I never had the privilege of only focusing on my academics,” Torres said. “When I was 17, I decided that I didn’t want that for me, that I’m not somebody who wants to work in hard labor.”
Torres holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s in business administration. Becoming an accountant was her initial goal, and she became a Lone Star National Bank auditor. It was not until one of the state auditors came to audit the bank that Torres realized teaching was a skill of hers.
“It was after I got out of school that I wanted to be a teacher,” Torres said. “I did accounting as an auditor for seven years, and while I was there, someone told me that I’d be good as a teacher. So, I said, ‘Let me give it a shot.’”
Torres was hesitant to apply her accounting skills to teaching because she thought no school offered any business classes other than business information management. Still, to her surprise, some schools provided marketing, management, and accounting positions.
Torres now works as a BIM teacher, practicum of entrepreneurship, and as a dual enrollment business instructor at Jimmy Carter Early College High School. She said her past taught her about hard work and that there is no bad job if it pays the bills, and you give it your 100%.
“I like to say business is one of the best careers you can go into,” Torres said. “It’s so vast. There are endless possibilities.” “Every business out there needs an accountant, a manager, and people who studied business. And if you want to be a teacher, that’s also a possibility for you. Just like me.”

Posted inEducation

The Unexpected Teacher: From Engineer to Educator

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Featured Teacher

The Unexpected Teacher: From Engineer to Educator

Accredited with a Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering, a Master’s in Business Administration, and a Master’s of Science in Mathematics Teaching, Mila Obnial shares her journey into what led her to become a teacher.
Upon migrating to America, Obnial was unable to continue pursuing her career in engineering leading to her teaching career.
“When we migrated over here to America, it was my husband’s decision for us to stay here in the valley,” Obnial said. “I can only work as a teacher because as an engineer, there wasn’t much opening for me, so in other words I didn’t have any option but to teach.”
However, from an unexpected circumstance, Obnial grew to love teaching. Beginning her teaching career in the Philippines by teaching college students, allowed Obnial to feel better by having teaching be her best option.
“Don’t get me wrong, I love teaching,” Obnial said. “I have always loved to teach.” “Teaching Mathematics was good since it is related to engineering because most of the subjects in engineering are mathematics, so I thought that I could do it well.”
Obnial holds a strong passion for teaching and is sure most of her students see that in her.
Obnial seeks to keep her student’s best interests in mind. She studies different approaches in teaching and adapts her approach depending on the type of students she has. However, this does not mean she doesn’t face any challenges.
“I had to study the culture of the students that I had, so that was a great challenge,” Obnial said. “Another challenge was knowing what to do with students who are always present but don’t pass the class, or students who have been very good at math, but don’t come to class. Those are the difficulties that I faced. I had to adapt to whatever was best for the students.”
No matter what challenges Obnial faces, she can find rewarding moments throughout her teaching career. Students who claim to not like math, but end up putting a bit of interest in it, are students who make teaching a much better experience for Obnial.
“Those are positive things for me to move on,” Obnial said. “If I could only have one student per semester, who would turn out to have almost no understanding of mathematics and end up passing their TSI and getting a good ACT score, that would be a blessing for me.”
Rewarding moments have shaped Obnial’s teaching career and her perspective on education. It isn’t just academic success that Obnial values. Through her teaching journey, she realized the impact of building relationships with her students.
“I would rather have a student who would remember me as a person, maybe not as a teacher, but as someone whom they can talk to and rely on,” Obnial said. “In other words, it is a relationship that is being built that I would prefer over the things that they learned in class.”
Obnial’s journey from an engineer to an inspiring educator shows that with passion, perseverance, and an unexpected turn of events, she grew to love her journey as an educator and enjoyed every step of it.

Posted inEducation, Community

Rewind: Principal Claudia Gomez-Perez sits alone in the student union area, marking the start of the 2020-2021 school year with remote learning. This quiet beginning for the class of 2024 starkly contrasts the school’s typically busy atmosphere.

Rewind: Principal Claudia Gomez-Perez sits alone in the student union area, marking the start of the 2020-2021 school year with remote learning. This quiet beginning for the class of 2024 starkly contrasts the school’s typically busy atmosphere.

Posted inEducation

Guiding Students Through Mathematics: Mr. Hinojosa

Guiding Students Through Mathematics: Mr. Hinojosa

Mr. Hinojosa is a Sophomore math teacher who has a passion for educating students and inspiring them to do their best in their education and lifestyle decisions. Mr. Hinojosa has achieved many challenges to get where he is today.
He originally graduated with a Bachelor’s in electrical engineering from UTRGV, Mr. Hinojosa’s journey into teaching wasn’t a predetermined path. However, his desire to help others with his knowledge of mathematics moved him into the realm of education. “It was a natural thing for me to do because I just liked helping people with any math problems.” he stated.
“I always liked to teach people how to do math problems because I always got them right away,” Mr. Hinojosa reminisces; he’s reflecting on the countless hours spent helping peers grasp the intricacies of mathematics since his grade school days. “It was always in me to help people out.”
His teaching began 14 years ago at La Joya High School, where he taught young minds. Fast forward to the present, and Mr. Hinojosa finds himself in his fourth year at Jimmy Carter, relishing the collaborative spirit among colleagues. “What I like about working here in Jimmy Carter is the way the teachers work together,” he beams. “I felt like I was in a team, and that’s one thing that I like.”
But Mr. Hinojosa’s educational journey didn’t stop with his engineering degree. In 2020, he embarked on a new chapter, earning a Masters in mathematics teaching from none other than Harvard University. Reflecting on his time at Harvard, he notes how it broadened his perspective on mathematics education, allowing him to tailor his teaching methods to accommodate diverse learning styles.
Beyond the classroom, Mr. Hinojosa is serving as the sponsor of the Alpha Delta Mathematics Honor Society and when asked about his advice to students, his words resonate with wisdom and encouragement: “Never give up on the things you really want.”
For Mr. Hinojosa, the most rewarding aspect of being a teacher lies in the heartfelt gratitude of his students. “I like when the students just come to me and say thank you for helping them and pushing them to be successful,” he confides.
As he continues to teach mathematical proficiency to his students, Mr. Hinojosa remains a loyal person of support, guiding them toward their goals with unwavering determination and boundless enthusiasm.

Posted inEducation

Empowering Futures: The Journey of a Dedicated Educator

Empowering Futures: The Journey of a Dedicated Educator

Brenda Trevino’s commitment and dedication to her job as the school’s Biology and dual enrollment Spanish and Education teacher.
Treviño has embarked on a captivating journey toward becoming a teacher, one marked by an unexpected turn.
“It was definitely an interesting one,” Trevino said. “I had always wanted to be a doctor or nurse, so I have always had a passion for science. When things did not work out for me, I decided to go into education.”
“I remember the positive impact my 9th-grade biology teacher, Mr. Campos, had on me the year that I came from Mexico. He really cared for me and helped me survive my first year in the United States.” Trevino said. Campos inspired her to go into the field of teaching and led her to strive to do the same thing as he did, helping students to succeed academically regardless of the circumstances.
Prior to joining Jimmy Carter, Trevino devoted herself to teaching across various educational levels. For nine years, she worked in 7th and 8th-grade Science at Memorial Middle School, followed by six years teaching 5th-grade Mathematics and self-contained classes. This diverse experience equipped her with a deep understanding of student’s needs at different stages of her academic journey.
“Since I have done all levels, elementary, middle, and high school, I can truly say that I enjoy teaching everywhere I go,” Trevino said.
Trevino’s approach to teaching is a mix of different styles that she tailors to fit her students’ needs. She tries to keep things balanced between leading the class and letting students take the reins.
“As far as my teaching style, I think I am a hybrid-style type of teacher, who offers a balanced approach between teacher and student-centered approaches, allowing for dynamic adjustment of activities to engage students,” Trevino said.
However, she still maintains some strict guidelines, particularly regarding technology use, to maximize instructional time and minimize distractions.
“I know that my students know that I am coming from the right place and that I care about them deeply and want what is best for them.”
For Trevino, the most fulfilling aspect of being a teacher lies in witnessing her students’ growth, both academically and personally; she finds immense joy in observing them overcome challenges.
“I set high expectations for them and push them to meet them until success becomes a habit and they want more of it. They start to believe in themselves and start meeting those expectations that seem so high at the beginning of the year.”
Trevino’s main goals as a teacher extend beyond the classroom, aiming for her students to achieve success in any path they pursue, provided they put in their best effort. She expresses her desire for them to reach their fullest potential, echoing her own journey of resilience and determination and strengthening her motivation as a teacher.
“I stay motivated and inspired in my role as a teacher because of my students. They make teaching interesting and fun. I focus on the positive experiences rather than the challenging ones.”
From her journey from aspiring doctor to dedicated teacher to her commitment to nurturing student success, Trevino’s impact is profound. Looking ahead, her aspirations extend beyond the classroom as she remains steadfast in her mission to inspire students to reach their fullest potential.

Posted inEducation

Managing Both Coaching and Teaching

Managing Both Coaching and Teaching

Juggling both teaching and coaching is a challenge that not many teachers can say they do; however, educator Juan Guajardo manages both daily. Being a PE coach in the morning, a health teacher in the afternoon, and an athletics coach, Guajardo does it all. 
While coaching wasn’t Guajardo’s first pathway, he has come to love what he does. He started out wanting to become an art teacher but took a position as an assistant teacher. Guajardo now has a degree in Kinesiology and a minor in English. 
“Before I became a coach, I was an English teacher, and then I got the opportunity to be a health and PE coach,” Guajardo said.  “This is where I have been, and I love it. I try to take care of the kids as much as possible.”
Guajardo was inspired to choose teaching as his career path because it provides him with both of his passions: education and sports. Coaching is teaching, and both go hand in hand. 
“This is a good job for me because I get to mentor kids and coach sports that I love,” Guajardo said. “Teaching just came as a bundle.”
Out of Guajardo’s 19 years of teaching, he has taught at Jimmy Carter for 11 of those years. Guajardo mentioned that Jimmy Carter’s environment built strong relationships with both students and fellow teachers. 
“This is where I have been, and I love it. I try to take care of the kids as much as possible,” Guajardo said. 
Being an educator does come with its ups and downs, including talking to students and creating a safe environment. Guajardo mentioned that he tries his best to talk to students at their level to create trust and respect. 
“I think that they respond well, and they all have respect for me,” Guajardo said. 
Other challenges that coaches often face are motivating students and encouraging them to participate. Guajardo wants kids to be able to reach their full potential while always having fun with sports and learning. 
“As a coach, it’s challenging, motivating kids that might not see themselves as really good in a sport and encouraging them to do things,” Guajardo said. 
One of the most rewarding moments for Guajardo was being named teacher of the year two years ago. Guajardo mentioned that PE coaches aren’t typically the kind of educator that gets selected for teacher of the year and that he was very grateful to have received that title. 
“Well, two years ago, I was named teacher of the year, and I was surprised since PE coaches don’t usually get teacher of the year,” Guajardo said. “I had never gotten teacher of the year, so it meant a lot.” 
Educators should always strive to be there for their students and try to help them learn and grow. Guajardo’s advice to fellow teachers is to do their jobs, be themselves, and be patient. 
“Kids are changing, and we have to adjust to their style at times,” Guajardo said.

Posted inEducation

Diving into the World of Teaching: V. Salinas

Diving into the World of Teaching: V. Salinas

Victorio Salinas is a chemistry teacher at Jimmy Carter Early College High School, and as the school year comes to an end, he reflects on his experiences teaching. However, becoming a chemistry teacher was not in his books.
“I have always wanted to become a teacher.” said Salinas, “I became a Chemistry teacher by default; I never wanted to become a chemistry teacher.” Sometimes, life has a funny way of leading us to where we need to be.
Looking back at his early days of teaching, he recalls his transition from CCC (College and Career Center) to JCECHS, he explains, “I moved from CCC to Jimmy Carter because I wanted to teach a class, and the classes I was teaching were filled with great students.” Said Salinas.
Despite the challenges that come with teaching, and asking him why he still teaches, his answer was straightforward, “I enjoy teaching students who like to learn and love gaining insight into their experiences.” Said Salinas.
Being a teacher might seem like a “go-lucky” job, only having to teach and grade papers as many students as I would’ve thought. But that is not always the case; Salinas said, “sometimes I regret becoming a teacher because of the documentation that is required of teachers today.”
“Every time I have that regret, a student shows me why I became a teacher and rejuvenates my passion.” Said Salinas.
Along with that, he expresses his frustration and gratitude as I ask him both his hardest and proudest moments of being a teacher.
“At the end of the year, when the students have checked out, they do not want to work, no matter what strategies we use.” He explains, “But my proudest moment is waiting for my students to graduate, even coming back to the district and teaching,” Salinas said.
For him, teaching isn’t just a job—it’s his passion. Inspired by his students’ potential, he remains committed to shaping futures. With each day’s end, he’s reminded of the heartfelt impact of education and the joy it brings.