San Benito honors best of the best in the classroom

SAN BENITO — They were picked because they are considered the best at what they do.

Rita Pierson, a longtime teacher from Texas and public speaker, said every child deserves a champion — an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.

It was efforts like these that were displayed yesterday during the annual Teacher Appreciation Luncheon in San Benito.

All 18 teachers who were honored are champions and all would agree they want their students to be the best they can be.

Teachers are a big part of everyday life in school. However, sometimes their efforts and hard work go unnoticed.

For this group of 18, the district noticed.

All 18 are teachers of the year, but two were selected as district title winners for elementary and secondary schools.

Natalia Montez, a fine arts teacher from Fred Booth Elementary, believes music is the gateway to learning.

As a former choir member herself and a lover of music she incorporates music into her lessons.

“Music is a language that everyone knows,” Montez said. “I believe that I am the beat for my students.”

Her teaching philosophy is so much more than that. She is in this profession because she cares about each student and wants to prepare them for the future.

“Of course, mastering math and reading skills and doing well on standardized tests are all essential objectives, but the true purpose of education is to help students develop life skills that go beyond the classroom,” Montez said.

Her goal is for each student to be successful in the real world and understand the importance of an education.

Secondary District Title Winner Jose Angel Villarreal, a Miller Jordan Middle School math teacher, knows the teaching profession isn’t an easy one.

He wants the public to know he strives to make all his students become effective learners.

“Everything that is done in the classroom matters and nothing is done in vain,” Villarreal said.

“Students do learn and show growth. Our students deserve the highest quality education and everything should be done in their best interest.”

Superintendent Dr. Adrian Vega knows how hard teaching can be. He also knows how rewarding and fulfilling it can be when teachers strive for the best.

Vega, a former teacher, said you don’t accomplish what these teachers have done by putting in a mediocre effort.

“We did not go into this business to win awards,” Vega said.

They did it to make a difference. They may not know the difference they have made now, but they will later on, Vega said.