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Guest: Why America needs educators

By Ismar Vallecillos - Western Governor's University | Nov 19, 2021

Ismar Vallecillos

As a young boy, my father took me to work at his landscaping business on my weekend and summer breaks. It was hard work, and I was often reluctant to go. When I complained at times, he used it as a teaching moment to emphasize the importance of staying in school and going to college.

I stayed in school but did not pursue a college degree straight out of high school. Eventually, life caught up to me, and I found myself married with two young daughters and needed to improve my employment. I needed to find a purpose in life. I decided to go back to college and chose a major in education based on my natural ability to teach and my desire to do something meaningful with my life.

I graduated at 31 years old with a degree in Multilingual/Multicultural Education and became a middle school teacher at an inner-city, low-income school. I clearly saw how education was the only way for my students to get out of their current situation and into a more prosperous future. I then developed a growing desire to share the opportunities of education with others who were in need, uninformed or lacked access to higher education.

This desire eventually led me to work as an international operations manager for a distance learning program that opened the door of higher education to thousands in several countries around the world. I witnessed firsthand how education connected talent to opportunity and became the catalyst for upward economic mobility.

My experience helped me discover that my purpose in life is to connect talented, non-traditional students with the opportunities of education. So, when I learned about Western Governors University’s student-centered model, its mission to “change lives for the better by creating pathways to opportunity” and that I could do this in my home state, it became clear that this was where I needed to be.

My journey is one of several paths that a career in education offers. But at its core, any career in education is the greatest opportunity to change generations and build a promising future. In observance of American Education Week, I express my deep gratitude to all the dedicated educators making a difference during this unusual and arduous moment in history. Now more than ever, as we face the challenge of rebuilding a post-pandemic country, we need educators to prepare and inspire those who are fundamental to the future of our nation.

This is why I continue to be an educator and why America needs teachers.

Ismar Vallecillos is the Director of Utah Operations for Western Governor’s University. The week of Nov. 15-19 is American Education Week. 

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