I’ve had some really wonderful teachers in my life — from people who have simply taught me the basics to those who have challenged me in ways I never thought could and who have helped shaped who I am today.

Clara Garcia

A great teacher makes learning fun, stimulating and engaging. While not all teachers can do this every single day, students also have a responsibility to be respectful, to be committed and to be interested in learning.

When all these come together, it makes for a great experience for both teacher and student.

Mrs. Likovic was my first ever school teacher. She taught kindergarten at H.T. Jaramillo Elementary. Back in the day, kindergarten was split into morning and afternoons. I went in the afternoon so I could walk home with my sister.

She was a wonderful teacher. She was kind, she was caring and she was everything I thought a teacher should be. She read to us, she taught us how spell, how to read and to love learning. She made some pretty tasty suckers as well.

Then there was Mr. Armijo, my third-grade teacher. I remember being a bit scared walking into his classroom that first day, but within the first few moments, all that fear fell away.

Mr. Armijo was inspiring and encouraging. He not only guided my love of reading, he motivated me to write, and it was in his class that I started becoming interested in the people around me and wanting to write stories about them.

Skipping over memories of fourth grade (other than it was the school year I first met my husband), I remember Mrs. Saavedra in fifth grade at the old Central Elementary. What a wonderful teacher she was.

Mrs. Saavedra motivated me and the rest of her students to do the best we could. She got us involved, she challenged us and she pushed us to be the best we could be.

Junior high school was a bit different — chaotic really. I think it was for everyone at that age. It’s a time when teens are rebellious and are not in their right minds.

But there is this one teacher — Mr. Williams — who forced me to think, to look beyond what was in front of me and to remember where I had come from.

Mr. Williams taught history. He wasn’t very popular among my fellow students. He was hard and frankly, not very likable. Regardless of his gruffness, he showed me that history is part of us, that it’s significant and knowing where we came from can only help us figure out where we’re going.

To be honest, I could have done a lot better in high school than I did. I would rather be with my friends than doing school work. I’d rather listen to music than read a book. Don’t get me wrong, I had some pretty good teachers in high school, and I did learn.

One of those teachers who, to this day, still makes me grateful I took his typing class was Mr. Barreras during my sophomore year.

“The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”

Mr. B would have us type this unusual sentence over and over again. The entire alphabet is in this sentence, he would say. If you can type this sentence without mistakes, you’ll be able master the key strokes overtime.

I still see Mr. Barreras — he comes into the office nearly every week for a newspaper. I thanked him recently for being such a strong influence on my life and in my career.

I would have to say that it was in college that I received my best education — not because of the instructors and professors but rather because I was a better student. I had grown to realize that education is meaningful, it’s empowering and college helped me discover myself and my strengths.

Everyone values education differently. I highly value my education and all those who helped guide me along my journey.

I’ve also come to realize that life, in and of itself, is an educational experience. I learn something new each and every day and it’s something I never take for granted.

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Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin.
She is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.