TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) – Over the past six years, generations of students have passed through Ernesto Somoza’s class at Pueblo High School.
“It is so gratifying now to be able to teach alumni siblings and to watch my students become adults themselves,” said Somoza.
He started teaching in 2013 as a long-term replacement until he realized the need for educators in the area.
“I went to some of the classes I was replaced in and they never had a real teacher in that class,” he said. “I realized I had to stop taking random social studies and science courses and find a position to teach something I was in school for that was fine art with an emphasis on photography, video and the art of installation. ”
His passion for teaching led him to win the Raytheon Leaders in Education award. The award is given to teachers who demonstrate excellence in leadership and in supporting their students and peers.
He said it was something he didn’t expect.
“I just couldn’t believe it when I first received the award because among all the teachers here in Tucson there are so many amazing teachers in Tucson,” he said. “And I just couldn’t believe I had been shortlisted for this year’s award.”
From graphics to web design to cycling, Somoza connects with his students and helps them learn in different ways.
David Rojas is a student at Pueblo High School who is part of Somoza’s double-lettered graphic design class and the Cycling Club. He said he was really proud of his teacher.
“He’s really encouraging and enthusiastic with the way he teaches and what he teaches,” Rojas said. “He puts things in his classroom that make students successful and they see more than the computer.”
The prize was accompanied by a cash prize which enabled Somoza to purchase a t-shirt press for the class. This has helped both the graphic design students and the school’s many clubs bring their t-shirt designs to life.
“Even the first week after we got the press we had students from all over the school saying we needed t-shirts for this event or club, we heard you had a press,” he said. said Somoza.
Somoza said the award gave him renewed confidence and comfort knowing there was support for teachers.
“It’s really cool to think that people support us as teachers,” he said. “This job is so rewarding and I am fortunate to be able to make an impact with my students every day I go to work.”