Positive attitude a perk for his students, colleagues
An interesting line of questioning being circulated asked people various general-knowledge questions.
For example, where were the Winter Olympics held in 2016?
Who played in the NFC championship game three years ago?
What was the most pressing news story during the summer of 2018?
Even though such stories or topics are widely known at their peak moments, people often need help remembering the answers without looking them up.
Then a question is posed: Who was a teacher or educator who made a difference in your life? Even if it had been decades ago, that teacher is always remembered.
Woodburn resident and former Lincoln Elementary School student Gabriel Garcia has an unequivocal answer to that question: Mario Juarez, his fourth-grade teacher. Juarez has also been named Pamplin Media Group’s 2023 Amazing Educator for the Woodburn area.
Angela Garcia, Gabriel’s mother, attests to Juarez’s influence on her son. She said it was nothing short of amazing.
“My son Gabriel hated school until he got in Mr. Juarez’s class,” Garcia said. “Mr. Juarez had a ‘moving’ class that allowed the kids not to be chained to their desks, and that was one of the first factors that helped my sweet son.”
Woodburn School District’s Communications and Community Outreach Coordinator Rachel Danskey, whose duties in part entail highlighting positive aspects of the district, said she’s heard descriptions of Juarez similar to Garcia’s from many sources.
“His name has been given to me numerous times when I ask which teachers are good classrooms to go into,” Danskey said.
Beyond Juarez’s popular dynamic teaching style, Garcia said his ability to communicate with students is especially effective.
“His amazing ability to listen and communicate with the children truly makes them feel heard and understood,” Garcia said.
As a mom, Garcia said the results convinced her of Juarez’s elastic and ongoing effects on her son.
“He helped my son go from a kid that ran away from school to a straight-A student and is now excited about planning for college,” she said. “He has a great understanding about children’s developing emotional intelligence, and it shows that he really loves being around kids.
“My son still speaks fondly of him all of the time and accredits Mr. Juarez for the pivotal point in his educational journey,” she added.
Hearing that Gabriel Garcia is planning for college is music to Juarez’s ears, as he asserts: “It’s all for the kids.”
Born and raised in Southern California, Juarez actually came to this area through the Army and after serving several terms overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan. He credits the Army for teaching him many things, and he returned service to the branch as a teacher/trainer as well.
The importance of education goes beyond the service and into his household: Juarez’s wife, Cristina Alcaraz-Juarez, is an assistant professor of education at George Fox University, Mario’s alma mater.
Juarez’s duties at Lincoln extend beyond teaching fourth graders.
“Mr. Juarez is a true professional who is 100% dedicated to ensuring each of his students has a meaningful, relevant and exciting educational experience at Lincoln Elementary,” Lincoln Elementary Principal Sara Flynn said. “He not only teaches fourth-grade students in two languages (Spanish and English), but he also works with students in the school’s Extended Day program, instructing in literacy as well as ‘Forest School.’”
The administrator emphasized that educators of Juarez’s caliber are beneficial beyond the classroom.
“Kids and families love Mr. Juarez! His colleagues appreciate his positive attitude, high expectations, collaborative efforts and relentless energy to support students,” Flynn said. “Lincoln Elementary School is truly fortunate to have Mr. Juarez!”
Garcia echoed that.
“I know he has touched many more students than just my son Gabriel,” she said. “Mr. Juarez truly deserves this (Amazing Educator) award!”