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Hometown Heroes: Teachers get appreciation

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By Don Pace

You’ve read about their accomplishments. They are the people in the Meadow City who are your children’s second parents. They are the teachers.

Robertson High School’s Gary Leger is out of town being recognized at the national level. Year after year, this teacher’s FFA students return home with state and national honors. He continues in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, who began and continued the program he now teaches.

West Las Vegas High School’s Arnell David Arellanes started a program whose seniors began their musical training in a new program that didn’t exist before he arrived in the classroom. Residents have cheered their successes over the years, and his state champion choir will perform for two days instead of one during their encore performance in Ilfeld Auditorium because last year’s performance was sold out.

Las Vegas’ two district superintendent’s Rick Romero and Jim Abreu often praise teachers who have given themselves to an occupation they love. This week, the Optic traveled with Las Vegas City School’s leader Rick Romero in his quest to thank and make sure his teachers know they are appreciated.

“They are so kid-oriented, and that’s what I love about them. When you talk to the teachers within the district, they speak in terms of ‘my children, my kids’ and I think that’s what we represent. I think parents want to see us as acting in their capacity when their children are with us. And I have such great respect for our teachers,” Romero said.

Romero said since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, demands on teachers have increased two- and even three-fold since he was in the classroom.

“Demands on teachers seem to occupy more and more of their time, so that is what impresses me, along with doing wonderful things in the classroom with very limited resources,” Romero said. “When you walk into the classrooms, from the elementary level up, and you see the progression of learning taking place is something that never ceases to amaze me,” Romero said. “Whenever I have a tough day, I go to visit the schools and I’m quickly reminded by the children and the staff why I’m here and why we continue to work through these difficult issues and at the forefront of that are the teachers. I can’t say enough about how much I appreciate what they do every day,” Romero said.

John Rudolph has been teaching woodworking for 24 years and said he loves what he does because he likes dealing with the diverse personalities of students.

“That’s what keeps me going. It really does. I see the young adults I’ve taught raising their families and seeing them succeeding in their lives after using the knowledge afforded them by the education we’ve provided is the pleasure I find in having this job. Sometimes you wonder if the message is getting through, but as they progress  in their studies you say, ‘Hey, we’ve touched them is some way,’” Rudolph said.

Third-year Spanish teacher Rosa Pacheco-Romero said that being able to interact with kids and have an intellectual conversation with students as they discuss the possibilities of their engagement in the broader world has made her years in the teaching meaningful — “a profession I am proud to be a part of.

Joselle DeMarco-Chandler, who has been in the classroom for 10 years teaching Spanish, said a teacher’s goal is to provide young adults with the structure they will need in life to succeed.

“We are doing that every day, and all the thanks I, and other teachers need, is to see our students go on to successful lives,” DeMarco-Chandler said.

Veteran teacher Mike Boyle, who has been at Robertson for 15 years teaching drafting and engineering, said he loves the fact that there’s always something different happening in the classroom.

Romero said his frequent visits to the classrooms around the district is to show teachers and students his appreciation for what they’ve done this year in spite of the difficulties faced by the school district, which affect everyone in town. He said his love for the classroom and the job his teachers are doing, despite headlines that rightly condemn wrongdoing by a few, do not reflect on the teachers in the district.

“Everything they do every day does not go unnoticed. There are teachers like Carla Boyle, April Ortiz and Francis Martinez who do incredible things, above and beyond their teaching responsibilities, giving of their time, effort and person that goes beyond that hourly duty day, Romero said.

Romero said he would like to refer to each teacher by name, but he honors all those who have the title “teacher” beside their name.