Ricardo Larios has been teaching social studies for eight years with great creative flair. In class, he'll connect subjects to everyday issues to make them more accessible by integrating current events, such as those in Syria, into lessons about historical wars. Larios is said to turn every moment into a lesson and every child into a learner.
Larios also teaches his kids life and teaching skills in Teacher Cadets, a program to cultivate future educators, and Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) classes. As the child of Mexican immigrants (and someone who suggests that he was "a bit of a troublemaker" when he was in school), Larios is the first in his family to go to college, and is dedicated to teaching students with backgrounds similar to his about their options for the future. "Setbacks are set-ups for greatness," he tells his students.
Larios asks his students to consider different professions, and invites community leaders to visit his class to talk about their careers (while others from the school district also come to observe his inspirational teaching). He also helps students with organizational skills, questioning techniques, and self-reflective activities that enable his students to see themselves as powerful people who can effect change for themselves.
And it appears to be working.
Students are determined to live up to his expectations. The statistics bear this out: 99% of his previous AVID students are accepted into a university or a community college, while 61% of his students met or exceeded the state science exam (compared to 39% of the total 8th-grade population).
Larios' name is also invoked yearly at the Turn Around Achievement Awards ceremony, where district students who have made significant changes in their attendance, motivation and commitment regularly thank him for their success.
Larios received an A.A. from Chemetka Community College in 2003 and a B.A. in 2005 from Oregon State. In 2007, he received an M.A. in teaching from Willamette University, where he now mentors new teachers in the Salem Clinical Teacher Program.
He recently started a summer literacy transition academy to help students transition from middle school to high school, and raises money for special needs programs. The one-time AmeriCorps teacher is also the head track coach who turned the school's program around, and grew it from 40 to 140 students while never slowing his own pace for positive change.
"When I became a teacher, I didn't really know why. But when I got older, I thought, when I die, I want 10,000 people to show up at..." (read more)
Jan 08, 2016
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