Tomas Moreno, PSJA ISD
I am from Alamo, a small rural town in Texas. I grew up on the dirt roads of a colonia called Tierra Bonita, later known as Mar Circle. I’ve been in the Rio Grande Valley for 33 years of my life. I was fortunate to have been educated in the great schools in PSJA from elementary to high school. During my senior year of high school I was part of the AmeriCorps Youth Harvest program that promoted community service and team building.
As part of the programs community service duties, I was assigned to help at a local Boys and Girls Club. One of my job duties was to help kids with their homework. Helping young kids understand and seeing their eyes light up when they finally understood a concept was so phenomenal, and that’s when I knew I wanted to be a teacher. Since then I tried my best to get jobs in the schools such as a Gear UP tutor or as an Avid tutor until I graduated from the University of Pan American with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in secondary mathematics.
I was granted an opportunity to teach at a school called Veterans Memorial High School where I taught a year and a half until I was blessed to teach at my alma mater PSJA Memorial High School; and I have been here for 9 years. I have been very blessed to have had the opportunity to meet some great people along my journey but one person I must say has truly inspired me to always push myself to my limits was Mr. Kelly Watson. He was my math coordinator, working with him taught me things about leadership, math, and of course personal philosophies and for this I am forever grateful. I have taken an extra duty at my school as a wrestling coach, which I am very passionate about being that I am an avid competitor in Brazilian jiu jitsu as part of a team called Checkmate.
Besides teaching math, coaching wrestling and competing in jiu jitsu, I love to spend time with my wife, 2-year-old son and my family going to church having cookouts and watching shows. My goal is simple: keep striving to become better than I was the day before.
Alejandra Camarillo, PSJA ISD
Alejandra Barajas Camarillo was born and raised in Edinburg, Texas. After graduating high school, she attended the University of Texas Pan-American and graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Mathematics. As a child, it was evident that Alejandra excelled in math and had a deep passion for it which is why she always knew, since very early on, that she wanted to be a math teacher. She is currently teaching Algebra I at PSJA Early College High School.
The past nine years as a teacher have been a learning experience but some of the most rewarding. Alejandra hopes to inspire her students to look at math in a different way and hopefully learn to love it like she does.
Daniel Garza, LA JOYA ISD
I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but spent most of my childhood growing up in Zapata, Texas. When I was 12, I moved to Palmview, Texas and went to La Joya ISD for my 6th grade year. With the exception of college, and a year in Houston, I’ve been living in the Rio Grande Valley ever since (approximately 18 years). I graduated from La Joya High School in 2003. I then went to Texas A&M Kingsville where I originally majored in Computer Science, but switched to and graduated with a bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2007 (made the Dean’s list multiple times).
I got hired in Houston as a Mechanical Designer doing HVAC. I eventually made the personal decision to come back home to the Valley and try my hand at teaching. I can’t say exactly why I wanted to become a teacher; it was an unexpected decision, but maybe not all that surprising. Both my parents, and my two sisters were teachers, maybe it was destined that I would follow in their footsteps. I got hired at Palmview High School during the 2008-2009 school year where I’ve been teaching for the last 9 years. During those 9 years, every generation of students has inspired me.
Receiving words of appreciation from students and their parent’s is very rewarding. It just makes me want to continue to help them be successful. Outside of work, I enjoy going to the gym, playing chess, or just being lazy with my dogs. When I have the time, I like to travel and visit friends I’ve made around the country. In the future I plan to continue preparing my students through my T-Stem Academy offering dual-enrollment courses. I remember how my teachers helped me, and the things they told me along the way.
The most memorable one to me was from my 6th grade band director Mr. Duran, “The reward for hard work, is more hard work.” A quote he took from the movie A League of Their Own. It continued, “If it was easy, anyone would do it. It’s the hard, that makes it great.”
Ricardo Hinojosa, LA JOYA ISD
Ricardo Hinojosa was born in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. He spent the first seven years of his life living in a rural area; he had to commute to a neighboring town to attend school. At the age of seven he immigrated to the Rio Grande Valley; there, he started schooling at La Joya ISD from the 2ndgrade until he graduated from La Joya High School.
He was ranked 3rd in his class. He attended the University of Texas Pan-American for five years and obtained a Bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering and Mathematics. While working on his Bachelors degree, Ricardo interned as an engineer for IBM and Ford Motor Company, and upon graduation was offered a full-time position in both companies. He went on to work as an engineer for IBM for one year before he decided to change gears.
Ricardo began his teaching career seven years ago at La Joya High School where he taught different levels of Mathematics: Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, and Math Models. He is currently teaching 7th Grade mathematics at Memorial Middle School in La Joya ISD and has been doing so for the last three years. At Memorial Middle School, Mr. Hinojosa is surrounded by a group of outstanding teachers who push each other to do their finest. Additionally, his student’s attitude motivates him and inspires him to do his best. Outside of work, he enjoys reading, going to the gym, and spending leisure time with family and friends.
In the future, Ricardo hopes he will, one day, obtain a Doctorates degree in Mathematics and become a professor at a university after he retires from teaching.
Jose Torres, EDINBURG CISD
I am Jose Arturo Torres. I was born in McAllen, Texas. I lived in Reynosa, Tamaulipas Mexico for the first part of my childhood. My father was a welder and worked on the elevated bridge in Reynosa. Afterwards, my parents decided to move to Chicago, IL where he worked at a factory as a welder. I went to school there. Because of lack of work for my parents, they again decided to move to Houston, TX for a couple of years. At the same time, my father had developed a disease that began to eat his left arm. Because of this my mother decided to send us to our grandmother in Reynosa for a couple of years until my father got better. Eventually, my mother sent for us and we moved to Alamo, TX.
There, my father was already severe in his disease and was bedridden. Up until I was twelve, I saw my father deteriorate until he passed away that same year. Without money, and with the oldest child being 14, my mother decided to become farm workers. We began to travel from Alamo, TX to Shelby, MI where we picked asparagus, cucumbers, apples, and several other fruits and vegetables. From Shelby, MI, we traveled to Mountain Home, ID. In Idaho, we worked with beet, potatoes, and beans. This was our life until my younger brother graduated from school. We would have to withdraw early from school and thus do the work before the end of the year so that we would be able to work up north.
When I graduated from high school, I decided to go to University of Texas at Pan American. I attended there for a semester and dropped out because I really did not pay much attention and skipped most of the time. This was a turning point in my life. I had no discipline, no direction, and felt lost. I then decided to join the Army. During my time there, they instilled in me the necessary discipline to finish my studies. I achieved a Bachelors of Science in Mathematics with a Minor in Computer Science and English.
I was hired by the Edinburg Consolidated School District in August of 2009; I have been working there ever since. During my time at Edinburg High School, I have been a UIL Computer Science Coach and am currently the UIL Robotics Sponsor.
Lauren Deliganis, EDINBURG CISD
I am Lauren Deliganis originally from Laredo, Texas. I lived in Laredo for most of my lifetime. I moved to Edinburg six years ago to attend the University of Texas Pan American. I have a Bachelor of Science Degree in Applied Mathematics. I am currently a teacher at Edinburg High School. Prior, I had been a tutor for mathematics for a total of six year. I tutored at Laredo Community College, the University of Texas Pan American, and at Edinburg North High School.
The love of mathematics I had is what drew me to become a teacher. After years of tutoring and assisting students in growing their skills in mathematics I knew I was going into the right field. This is my third year being a teacher here in the Edinburg district. My first inspiration was my 8th grade Algebra 1 teacher, Mrs. Contrersa. She made math enjoyable and easy to understand. That is when my love for math started. Now, my inspiration is my students. Building a connection with each one of them and helping them understand math in a way that they enjoy is truly what keeps me going in this field. Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with friends and traveling. I normally travel back to Laredo to visit my family.
Family is very import to me and I try to visit them often, especially to spend time with my little brother Andrew, who is currently a freshman in high school. I also like to travel to different states to see other cultures. I hope to be able to visit all fifty state. My future goal is to continue my education and receive a doctoral degree in applied and/or computational mathematics.