Heroes Among Us: Featuring GISD Teachers of the Year
Teaching is an art which is ever-changing in the world of education we live in today. A successful teacher will look different in every classroom. Each year, new students raise new challenges and each year new strategies are introduced to help reach every student every day. There is one common denominator in successful teachers: the love of children.
Kindergarten children look up to their new teachers as inspirations for learning. As these same children continue to walk the halls throughout the next 12 years, their view of teachers evolve into role models. As students are nearing graduation and entering their collegiate or professional years, this status turns into admiration. As adults, we view teachers as Heroes Among Us, preparing our very own children to become future leaders and successful adults.
At Edison Elementary, kindergarten teacher Isreal Garcia is an inspiration to his Spanish speaking students and their families. As a bilingual teacher, Garcia taught only Spanish-speaking students his first three years in education. This past year, Garcia was instrumental in launching the first year of the two-way dual language immersion program, and is now teaching Spanish to native and non-native speakers.
Garcia uses the family approach to ensuring his students are successful in the classroom. “I make positive relationships with the students as well as the parents, capturing the heart of the family so that they know we are a team,” Garcia said.
Garcia is loved by his students and is known for his enthusiastic and animated teaching style.
“Those kids are drawn to him like a magnet,” Assistant Principal Vance Wells said. “He is a great role model for them and I’m seeing that in the classroom as well. They want to do well for him.”
Edison Principal Pablo DeSantiago describes Garcia has having “an automatic smile that comes on in the morning to all the students and the parents”.
As an elementary teacher, Garcia’s classroom looks and feels very different from a teacher at the secondary level. For some teachers, their passion falls to the later years in a child’s K-12 education. Although styles and routines are very different, the passion for kids remains steady.
Glenn Fuhrmann has dedicated 20 years to teaching children at the secondary level at Gainesville Junior High and Gainesville High School. Throughout the years, Fuhrmann has developed relationships with hundreds of students, ensuring academic success for every student.
“If you can’t capture a kid’s heart, you’re not going to capture the kid,” Fuhrmann said. “You have to make that connection with the kids to want to learn. If the kids know the teacher is motivated and enjoying the lesson, they are going to enjoy learning.”
Fuhrmann is applauded for modeling the GHS motto of "Every Leopard. Every Day", by providing a safe and supportive environment where his students feel encouraged to take risks.
“He truly cares for the students to the degree that when they succeed and feel the passion, he feels it,” GHS Principal Melissa Hutchison said.
Not only is his success felt in the classroom, it is admired by his peers. Hutchison describes his success as “contagious” as it travels to the classrooms of his colleagues. “They see his success and they want to have that success in their own classroom,” Hutchison said.
Garcia was named GISD Elementary Teacher of the Year and Fuhrmann was selected as the Secondary Teacher of the Year. On Thursday, August 2, Fuhrmann and Garcia represented GISD at the Region XI Teacher of the Year awards reception.
Teaching is not a job, it is a profession and it is a passion. Teachers in our community deserve the recognition they do not strive for, because they are truly Heroes Among Us.
The "Heroes Among Us" story series is released twice monthly,featuring local heroes and organizations that exemplify the Totally Texas, All American spirit that is the fabric of the Gainesvile community. Stories are contributed by the City of Gainesville, Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, Gainesvillle Economic Development Corporation, GISD, and NCTC.