For Jose Ascencio, the 9th – 12th grade Spanish teacher at T.W. Andrews High School, his desire to teach goes back to elementary school. When you ask who first inspired him to become an educator, he credits his third-grade teacher, Mrs. Gomez.
“Mrs. Gomez inspired me to be the best I could,” Jose says. “I enjoyed her lessons and looked forward to them. Mrs. Gomez was engaging and kind.” And while Mrs. Gomez was his first inspiration, Jose adds other educators in his life also had a profound influence on his teaching style.
“There was a math teacher in my high school, Mr. Mendoza, who was so prepared to teach his lesson,” Jose says. “He knew the content, he knew the method of delivery, he knew our weaknesses and strengths. And he was always trying to teach in a different way than the rest – to make classes fun and challenging at the same time. He used to make sure that all students could comprehend the topic.”
Now, as a teacher and Andrews’ Extraordinary Educator, Jose models the same spirit of patience and excellence that his former teaching role models did.
“Mr. Ascencio builds impactful relationships with students and empowers them to be successful in school as well as life,” says Marcus Gause, principal at Andrews. “He exemplifies ‘extraordinary’ by always going the extra mile and ensuring that the needs of others are met before his.”
Jose says his most memorable moments in teaching come when he gets the privilege of seeing his students hit those “aha” moments in class:
“When my students keep trying hard and are so happy and proud of themselves when they realize that they finally get it,” Jose says, “it fills my heart.”
Like his former role models, Jose says that he is constantly refining his own teaching style and seeking out new ways to learn. He wants to guarantee that each and every student has the best chance to learn and absorb the content of his lessons.
“My teaching experience at T. W. Andrews High School has been improved by an excellent team of administrators who have provided me with professional development opportunities,” Jose adds. “Also, the willingness of my students to learn contributes to updating my teaching methods. I reflect on my pedagogical practice; this allows me to make changes and adapt routines to make sure my students have better opportunities to access the content.”
Despite the stress of the pandemic, Jose says he continues to stay grateful for his work and his students and has committed to face the challenges of teaching during COVID-19.
“It is a privilege to be a teacher because every day I am given the chance to learn from others, contribute to society, and grow as a person,” Jose says. “Being a Spanish teacher at Andrews High School gives me the opportunity to inspire achievement, foster love, and develop in my students their sense of self. My students, my colleagues, my administrators, and my students’ parents make me proud.”
Jose sees his work in his classroom as only one aspect of his duty to his students. As a former soccer coach, Jose knows the importance of showing up to his students sporting events and extracurriculars and commits to cheering on his Red Raiders from the stands.
And it’s through that “extra mile” mentality mentioned by Mr. Gause that Jose is able to build relationships with his students that springboard learning and growth.
“I have been able to make connections with students, to build strong relationships and a culture of trust, [while] implementing rigorous and relevant classroom instruction,” Jose says. “I hope my students take away from my classroom the desire to continue learning a new language and also the determination of working hard to achieve their personal goals.”
Jose always reminds his students the value of hard work and determination when it comes to facing challenges and setting new goals, and he encourages them to be active participants in their own city and community.
“Life is going to present them with many challenges, and we must be persistent to set goals and develop a life plan,” he says. “Do not wait for opportunities – go for them. Also, they must be clear that they are important pieces of the High Point community.”
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Photography by Maria West Photography