Four high school sophomores with their eye on the future - not just their own, but others' as well - have joined Project TEACH (Teachers Entering A Career Through Hope) at Hope College.
The four students from the area who have joined the program this fall are Andres Garcia of West Ottawa High School, Jessica Garza of West Ottawa High School, Pedro Martinez Jr. of Holland High School and Andrea Rubio of West Ottawa High School. They will be recognized during a reception at the college's Maas Center auditorium on Thursday, Sept. 25, at 7 p.m.
The public is invited. Admission is free.
Project TEACH (Teachers Entering A Career Through Hope) is an incentive scholarship program whose primary objective is increasing the number of persons of color in the teaching profession. The program provides mentoring and instructional support for the high schoolers, who begin as sophomores or juniors, and, when they continue on their path toward becoming educators, scholarship aid for the participants as Hope students. Project TEACH's goal is to help local students while increasing the number of minorities who become teachers locally and add to the nation's pool of excellently trained teachers.
Even as they begin their own career preparation through the Hope program, each with a specific teaching goal in mind, the four students are united in their desire to make a difference in other young lives.
"Each of our new students comes with a unique set of gifts and goals that they'll bring to the table as they participate in the program," said Barbara Albers, director of Project TEACH. "I am impressed with how committed they all are to pursuing their interest in teaching for the best of all reasons: for the sake of the students with whom they will be working as educators."
Garcia is interested in teaching at the elementary or middle-school level. He would like to concentrate on making mathematics fun for his students. He has been active as a volunteer with friends and others in the community. He is the son of Felipe Caamaro-Garcia Sr. of Holland and Barbara Lorenzo of Wilmington, N.C.
Garza is interested in teaching at the elementary level, possibly fifth grade. Albers notes that she is convinced that she will become an excellent teacher. Her community and school activities have included working with children as a volunteer for CosmicCity for Churches for Rose Park Reformed Church and participating in Leadership for the 21st Century. She is the daughter of Ismael and Raquel Garza of Holland and Misson, Texas.
Martinez is interested in teaching fourth grade. He wants to be inspirational to his students. Interested in music, he participates in the school choir and plays a variety of instruments in a band that involves three generations of his family. He is the son of Pedro Sr. and Stephanie Martinez of Holland, and Blanca Garcia of Holland.
Rubio is interested in teaching at the middle school level. Her activities have included volunteer work at her church, Calvary Reformed, and in the community. She has been involved in the Boys and Girls Club as well as in various sports. She is the daughter of Alonso and Jessica Rubio of Holland.
In addition to Garcia, Garza, Martinez and Rubio, Project TEACH includes another seven students who are also currently in high school and 13 students who are enrolled at Hope. A total of 11 participants have graduated from Hope through the program, which began in 1996.
The Maas Center is located at 264 Columbia Ave., on Columbia Avenue at 11th Street.