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Made In The 956: Educator celebrating 50 years at the same district

Made In The 956: Educator celebrating 50 years at the same district
1 year 1 month 1 day ago Tuesday, May 23 2023 May 23, 2023 May 23, 2023 12:47 PM May 23, 2023 in News - Local

One educator from the Laguna Heights area is celebrating a very special milestone.

Rita Garcia has been at the same district for the past 50 years, and her love and compassion is certainly being felt and needed in that community right now. 

"My love is what keeps me going. I was asked what keeps you going? Love," Garcia said.

Garcia knows a lot about love. She's the counselor at Port Isabel Junior High School, a position she's held for more than a decade.

"Love for what I do. Love for my family, my Tarpon family, and it's those bonds that keep us going," Garcia said.

But those bonds started years ago, in fact, 50 years ago.

"Yes, this is my 50th year, praise God, and I give all the glory to god for that," Garcia said.

Garcia started at the district as a para-professional when she was just 19 years old.

"The first months were a little rough, but I found that I really enjoyed being around children. So that's how it started," Garcia said. "I did that for five years until I got my degree, and I started teaching. I taught for 15 years, and then my husband encouraged me, he happens to be Rudy Garcia, a counselor for the district as well, and he encouraged me to get our counseling degree, and we went for it, and I love it. I enjoy it, I found my passion."

A passion that Garcia says she wanted to share with others here at home.

"When my husband and I first got married, he said, you know, let's move to Denver, Colorado. I said no, I didn't get my education to give elsewhere. I want to give to my community. My roots are embedded here, and I wanted to give back to my community," Garcia said

And she's giving back, each and every day, to all the students here.

"We try and teach the whole child. Psychological, social/emotional, and of course their academics. But it's important because they need to know how to help themselves and find what's therapeutic for them, and the key to happiness, lies from within," Garcia said. "Because it's about finding themselves, learning their interests and strengths. And today I told them you have to have strong connections. Strong connections with your family, with your friends, with school personnel because we're here to help you. And we need to disconnect from social media and connect more with one another."

Garcia says she'll continue inspiring and supporting students and her community for years to come. 

"I will continue teaching as long as god gives me my health, and I feel happy and enjoying what I'm doing," Garcia said. "Teaching comes from the heart, and it is in giving that you shall receive. If we can give love and acceptance, that's the best gift we can give to one another."

Rita Garcia, Made In The 956. 

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