By Yesica Peña
Pulse Staff Reporter
Almost everyone can recall the impact certain teachers made in their lives, teachers who inspired them and even changed the trajectories of their lives.
For Abel De Loera, a sophomore Management Information Systems major, his first-grade teacher, Mr. Edwards, came to mind quickly.
“My mom took me to get a haircut. The barber misunderstood her and he shaved my head, completely,” said De Loera. Classmates bullied him until his teacher stood up for him.
“He got all the class together and told them, ‘If you make fun of him, you make fun of me.’ Kids can be pretty brutal. He kind of stuck up for me, and I always felt I was like his little right-hand man. I just did my work and behaved. I respected him a lot after that,” said De Loera.
Valerie Kimball, a sophomore majoring in Computer Science, joined the military right after high school and decided to come back to school a few years later.
“When I first got here, I was pretty intimidated by school; I was really worried that I wasn’t going to be prepared for what was going to come,” she said.
Kimball expressed concern to her English professor, Jennifer Scheidt.
“I let her know I was a little skeptical of college overall, and she reassured me,” Kimball said.
Scheidt played a key role in Kimball’s school life, telling her that school is a process and that she wasn’t going to learn everything overnight.
Encouraged by Scheidt to join the Honors Program, Kimball was chosen to speak at a conference in Boston this semester.
Dr. Amanda Salinas, lead faculty of Accounting, said, “If a teacher says something not insulting or wrong, just slightly sharp, it can turn the student off for the rest of the semester, and they won’t learn.”
Salinas said that even if students don’t grasp the concept, complimenting them builds confidence, something they need to finish school.
Dr. Amie DeLeon, professor of Teacher Education, said impact can also come from the bad. Roughly 12 years ago, Texas introduced the associate’s of Arts in Teaching. The program introduces students to a classroom their freshman year, and students learn that teaching is not for everyone.
“The truth is you have to be someone very special to be able to teach,” DeLeon said.
Bryan Joseph Campa, a sophomore Early Childhood Development major, picked at random an education training class in high school. Realizing on the first day of class he was the only male, he was ready to get out. His teacher spoke to him about trying it out before deciding anything.
“I went in, and I love it. It changed me,” said Campa. He teaches STEM at the Boys and Girls Club while attending Palo Alto.
DeLeon says there’s a male deficit. Three of her 24 students are male. Male teachers can have the greatest impact in elementary because a lot of children are lacking a male role model at home.
Matilda Staudt, English instructor, remembers a teacher she had her senior year in high school.
“If it wasn’t for Mr. Conques, there’s no way I would be where I am today,” said Staudt.
Staudt grew up with a learning disability and in an abusive home.
“I was really angry, and I would act out in school. I don’t know what [Mr. Conques] saw in me, but he saw something, and I was the worst kid in his class,” Staudt said.
Conques guided her through the college process. Getting accepted right after high school to the University of the Incarnate Word was Staudt’s dream. Conques told Staudt there was no way the school would take her with her grades. Conques advised Staudt to start off at a community college before applying to UIW. Staudt attended San Antonio College before transferring and graduating from UIW.
Maria Nuñez, a sophomore Early Childhood Development major, remembers an ESL teacher helper. Nuñez came from Mexico in the middle of her sixth grade school year.
“She really inspired me a lot because she was an American…while we learned English, she was learning Spanish. It hit me hard. I see her as a good role model. She actually learned Spanish and speaks it fluently,” said Nuñez.
For more information about the Teacher Education Program at Palo Alto, contact Dr. Amie DeLeon, program director at (210) 486-3046.