Alumni Spotlight: Ulises Garcia!

Name: Ulises Garcia
Corps Year & Region: Los Angeles '06
My Story: In AP Lang. these last few days, we discussed and analyzed President Obama’s State of the Union Address. After we analyzed its rhetorical devices, choice of diction, syntax and structural elements, I asked my kids what they believed is the most salient issue in America, today. Understanding the complexity of the question, I allowed for a long pause, for silence, scanning the classroom for the student who was willing to ignite our discussion. The silence continued, just until I was about to rephrase the question, and then Cole raised his hand. I nodded at Cole and he said, “Motivation. Motivation is our most urgent issue.” In all honesty it wasn’t the answer I expected, so I said what any great teacher would say. “Please elaborate, Cole.” He went on to say that he understood that the economy is an important issue; that immigration and defense are important issues, too, but that the lack of motivation and inspiration in our school system is the most important for his generation. That not being inspired, he continued, is what makes it difficult for him to go to school, even though he loves learning, and that, does not bode well for our future if it continues. Many students were nodding while he said this. And I was nodding, too. Nodding because we cannot afford to lose students like Cole; nodding because now, I was the one being motivated, motivated to reflect on my role as an educator and leader at my school -- Am I doing all I can to inspire my colleagues, my students and their parents? Am I creating an environment that is conducive to risk-taking, inquiry, and collaboration? Am I empowering my students? Those are the questions Cole and the rest of our students are asking. Therefore I earnestly carry these questions to my next ELAC meeting; School Site Council meeting; parent conference; and most importantly, to my classroom -- to inspire students.