Mr. Garza Receives “Mentor of the Year” Award

Mr. Garza Receives “Mentor of the Year” Award

Written by Sarah Seinfeld (Alumni Teach Project Manager)

“I never thought that I would receive an award like this…” Mr. Garza stated as he accepted his award as “Mentor of the Year” from the National Center for Teacher Residencies (NCTR) in Chicago, Illinois on Tuesday, May 14, 2019.  Joe Garza, 6th grade humanities teacher at CALS Middle School, was selected for this recognition among a group of nearly 20 mentors from different residency programs across the country.

Mr. Garza has had the longest standing record of commitment to the PUC ATP program, serving in the mentor role every year for the past 5 years.  In this role, Mr. Garza acts as a co-teacher, guide, and role model for a PUC alumni who is learning to become a PUC teacher.  Despite his many years of experience, he continues to hone his skills as mentor by fully engaging in every opportunity for professional development in both mentoring and teaching practices.  He continues to be a source of inspiration and strength for other mentors by hosting others in his classroom for a huddling mentor lab experience and offering to share his practice via video and self-reflection.  He also goes above and beyond to develop his residents, meeting with them on weekends, providing extra planning supports, and being open to taking risks in the classroom.  He has maintained strong relationships with all of his previous residents and the CALS community at large, of which he has been a part for over a decade.

Mr. Garza is the first teacher educator to receive this recognition along with a special trip to Chicago to attend the NCTR Annual Symposium.  He was able to share his story with an audience of over 100 educators, bringing many of them to tears with his moving words.  He ended his speech by acknowledging all that he has learned from his residents over the years, including his current resident, Daniel Zepeda. “My current resident, Daniel, has reminded me about the joy and laughter of teaching. He has reminded me that teaching is a work that involves the pendulums of relationship and rigor.”  May all educators be reminded of rewards of teaching as we wrap up another school year and continue to inspire young people to commit to uplift their communities now and forever.