Education Spotlight: Local Teach for America teacher wants students to understand power of education


Gil Garza is a Teach For America educator and teaches robotics at Mercedes High School T-Stem Academy. Garza primarily teaches 11th graders but has a range that covers freshmen to seniors.

Q: What motivated you to apply to join Teach For America and preference the Rio Grande Valley?

A: I first learned about TFA when I witnessed the profound impact a TFA teacher had on her students during my junior year in college. From that point forward, I became interested and learned more about Teach For America. TFA’s One Day mission to have equitable education for all children was the main reason why I decide to join. Even though I am not from the Rio Grande Valley, I knew that I wanted to stay here after graduating. I saw how unique and special the RGV is and wanted to make sure that the time I was going to serve was in a place that would benefit my community.

Q: What has been one of the most surprising things you’ve come to learn about education during your time as a classroom leader?

A: I have learned that education is a multifaceted career. Teachers have to often wear different hats to make sure we are both preparing our students’ academically as well as personally. In order to better prepare them for the future, it is just as important to develop our students’ character as we deliver the content that they need to master.

Q: If you could change one thing for your students, what would it be?

A: I want to make sure my students understand the value of education, and how powerful and transformative it is.

Q: At a time when more people recognize the inequity of education in public schools, Teach for America has an important role to play. What do you view as Teach For America’s role in creating systemic change?

A: Through the work that Teach For America has done to end education inequity and the impact that is seen throughout the nation in corps members classrooms, the organization is bringing awareness to this issue and also implementing solutions to make sure all of our children have an opportunity of a better future. Teach For America has positioned itself to not only impact the lives of the students we serve but also in creating a network of like-minded educators that continue this mission in different fields. This network is what will catapult TFA’s mission to make sure future educational systems change for the betterment of our students.

Q: What are the most rewarding aspects of your work as a corps member?

A: The most rewarding part of being a corps member is seeing my students grow. I have the unique opportunity to be in their lives as they finish high school and move on to the next chapter of their lives. I value the relationships I have with my students.

Q: Can you share an anecdote or personal experience from your classroom or school?

A: One of my missions when I started my CM journey was to inspire my students to pursue STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) careers. I remember setting a goal for myself to make sure my female students felt the same support. I was ecstatic when my female students were deeply interested in my robotics class and later formed an all-girls robotics team. Last spring it was inspiring to see them be successful at the FIRST Robotics Competition in Houston, Texas. This academic year I have seen the momentum from last year continue as more and more female students are enrolling in STEAM related courses at our campus. Being able to be a small contributor to this movement is what motivates me to continue doing this work.