Rebecca Guerra

Position: Special Education Teacher School: Northstar Elementary School

School District: Ysleta Independent School District

City, State: El Paso, Texas

About the Nominee: Rebecca Guerra was nominated by Veronica Curl, the parent of a student.

How do you describe an individual who gives their entire self in order to better the lives of the students around them? An educator, yes, but Mrs. Guerra is so much more than that.

She's the one who fights for her students when the system breaks down, the one who gives them the confidence they need to grow as individuals. She's the one who consumes as much knowledge as she can in order to better relate to her students. Mrs. Guerra takes the initiative to educate the student body about autism awareness and other disabilities, and she keeps the lines of communication between the school and parents open and busy. As the head of a classroom for students with autism, Mrs. Guerra treats each student as a human being and inspires them to advance through patience and understanding. Additionally, she makes sure they are included in all school events. Mrs. Guerra created a program so that each mainstream classroom is visited and educated on autism awareness. She encourages the entire school to interact with her classroom to promote the concept of acceptance and clear up any misunderstandings about autism.

Mrs. G, as the Northstar Elementary community affectionately calls her, also runs an after-school program for mainstream students. Additionally, she organizes breakfast potlucks for her fellow teachers and is involved and present at all school activities, where she can be seen encouraging and interacting with students. When her classroom was moved to another school, Mrs. G. patiently helped the anxious parents of her students to get through the intimidating process of moving.

Ms. Curl's child, a non-verbal child with autism, is in Mrs. G.'s class. Ms. Curl says it's an indescribable feeling when she walks into the classroom of mainly "non-verbal students" and sees mainstream students playing with the child she thought would never interact with others. Suffice to say, it warms the heart. In the five years Ms. Curl has known Mrs. G., she has seen her successfully take a group of non-verbal students and helped them find their voice, as well as educated an entire school about the person inside each individual with autism. She makes every student feel like they count, whether they have autism or not. In the last 14 years, Mrs. Guerra has changed many students' lives for the better, as well as the lives of their families!

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