Teaching and coaching is something that Joel Luna saw himself doing as a student at San Diego High in the early 90s. Luna returned to his alma matter after college and has been teaching there for 18 years.
"Going through high school and seeing how the coaches instilled discipline in us and the way the teachers spent a lot of their time working with us. You could tell they were really into teaching us. They really wanted to see us learn. They put in their all," Luna said. "I always saw myself doing that. I told myself, 'One day, I'm going to do that right there.' Now, I'm doing it."
He graduated from SDHS as part of the Class of 1995. He eventually went off to college and things began "to fall into place" in his dream to become a teacher and a coach.
Luna did his student teaching at Alice Independent School District, but his heart was in San Diego; in the community he grew up in.
"I wanted to give back to the community that helped me get to where I'm at now. Being able to come back and help out the kids who are similar (to me). Knowing what the teachers and coaches did for me and I wanted to give the kids of San Diego that experience as well," Luna said.
Every month teachers like Luna are awarded the Amazing Teacher Award on behalf Bowden Ford of Alice and the Alice Echo News Journal. They are nominated by the community for the work they have do in a student's life.
Luna was nominated by SDHS freshman Alejandra Trevino.
"I think that my teacher and coach, Joel Luna, should be awarded the amazing teacher award. I feel this way because each and everyday he has a smile on his face. He helps anyone that he sees needs it, whether they're sad or need help with work," Trevino wrote. "Aside from being a teacher, he also coaches football and golf. During football season, he always motivates his players to play hard and do their best...In golf season, he always motivated my teammates and I to try our very best to succeed and have an excellent time playing. He never wants to see us give up whether we are his students in the classroom or playing on a team he coaches. He does everything he can to make sure we have an excellent team, excellent season and most importantly an excellent time."
"A lot of times it feels like nobody's noticing what you are doing, but whenever kids thank you for something or parents express their thanks for helping their kids, I mean, people may not think about it, but it's a very big honor. For them to come and tell us it's something that goes along way and makes the job worth while," Luna stated.
Luna is now inspiring his students the way his coaches and teachers inspired him. He shows his students how hard work pays off.
"He is a true Vaquero and I believe he represents our motto well. Dream Big, Work Hard, and Live Right," Trevino wrote.
AENJ is honoring a teacher during the school year. To nominate your favorite teacher visit alicetx.com and click on the Amazing Teacher link.