Raytheon Honors Mr. Ernesto Somoza

By Kevin Salazar

Ernesto Somoza

Pueblo High School’s very own Mr. Ernesto Somoza, who teaches graphic design and sponsors numerous clubs, has been named Raytheon’s Teacher of the Year, among the dozens of applicants from many high schools in the Tucson area.

After being nominated in August by Pueblo colleague, economics teacher Ms. Mary Wallace, Somoza endured several levels of eligibility—and in the end, received the call that informed him that he was one of three teachers who would receive a $5,000 grant.

Somoza said, “I was eventually notified that I was a finalist, which made me really happy.” He paused and added, “Then, I had to be at my best during a Zoom interview—competing against other finalists.”

He added, “I almost missed the phone call the next day that informed me that I was the recipient of the award. I kept ignoring a call during first period because I didn’t recognize the call number and name. But, luckily, I eventually answered my phone a few times later and learned of my award.”

This is not Somoza’s first time at being honored by local organizations. He has been recognized by the TUSD media, Tucson Values Teachers and by the University of Arizona.

“Being recognized for what I do at Pueblo is truly elating,” Somoza said. “My job is challenging, although I’ve never looked at it as a job because it’s too much fun.” He paused and added, “All teachers work hard to inspire their students and to prepare them for the future. I wish I could share this award with everybody.”

Besides dedicating his school day as a graphic teacher for the past six years, Somoza also sponsors/teachers the Bicycle Club, the Hiking Club and also volunteers his time for various other projects, including district and community leaders.

“Our [Pueblo] students need to compete with others across the city,” Somoza said, “and this grant money will help me afford the equipment necessary to expedite this process.”

Somoza and his students recently began to design and create T-shirts for various Pueblo clubs after purchasing equipment necessary for such a venture.

“There’s so much more I need in my classroom to compete with other high schools’ graphic design programs,” Somoza said, “but I feel confident that we’re on our way. I want Pueblo to be the district and community leader in this field.”

Somoza is currently applying for another grant award that would help him achieve this status. He encourages other educators to apply for grants in their subject matter because “they’re out there.” These grants, he asserts, will make positive changes in students’ learning.

“I see how engaged students are when they’re learning graphic design with state of the art equipment,” said Somoza, “This enthusiasm and engagement really does change their perspectives and turns otherwise disinterested students into individuals who truly want to learn and share their knowledge with others. This contagion is absolutely amazing to observe.”

Ms. Mary Wallace, who nominated Somoza for this award, said, “Ernie [Somoza] is the most amazing STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math] teacher I have ever met! He helps everybody selflessly with his knowledge of technology.”

With a future full of new adventures and new projects, Somoza shares his happiness for what he does for a living.

“What I do [at Pueblo] just happens to award me a paycheck every two weeks,” he said. “The real reward is preparing students for success and instilling them with the kind of knowledge with which they can graduate and use forever.”

Cristobal Santa Cruz Receives Collegiate Award

By Isaiah Sotelo

Cristobal Santa Cruz teaching history.

Out of 305 nominees from 38 states and 17 countries, Pueblo U.S. history teacher Mr. Cristobal Santa-Cruz was nominated and selected as one of this year’s winners of the prestigious Yale Educator Award, which recognizes high school educators who have motivated and supported students to go and be “above and beyond”.

These educators are nominated by students, and these nominations are reviewed by admissions officers at Yale University.

“I felt privileged because I know that several teachers deserved this award,” said Santa Cruz, who was nominated by Pueblo High School’s Class of 2021 valedictorian Yakeleen Almazán, currently attending Yale University in New Haven, Conn.

“Once I read the Yale Educator Award prompt, I automatically thought of Mr. Santa Cruz.” said Almazán.

Almazán thanks Santa Cruz for all of the encouragement he gave her. She believes that because of his support, she was accepted to Yale and was selected for one of the most prestigious scholarships for high school students.

“Not only did he touch my life, but he is legendary at Pueblo for his amazing lectures and the motivation he instills within his students,” Almazán said.

She added that Santa Cruz’ interactive style of teaching allows his students to be engaged in their classwork and deeply interested in the subject.

“I can honestly say that I was never bored—not even once—while I was in his classroom,” Almazan said. “I was always fully attentive and fascinated during his lectures.”

Ms. Mary Wallace, an economics teacher at Pueblo, added that Santa Cruz has been an unconditional ally to his co-educators and staff throughout their years of teaching.

“He is the most amazing teacher I ever met,” said Wallace. “When I was a first-year teacher, he took me under his wing and helped me so much. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have made it my first year.”

Santa Cruz, who has been teaching at Pueblo for 29 years, was publicly recognized for this award at Pueblo’s Homecoming game on Oct. 1.

“When my students leave my class, my hope is that they have the skills that help them become literate members of our society and that they adhere to a tenacious spirit that helps them further their education in the field they choose to follow,” he said.

College & Career Bulletin Guides Seniors To Future

By Hector Guzman 

Due to the pandemic that has stopped Pueblo from its normal functions since last March, the College and Career bulletin has still been available to provide Pueblo’s community with various types of information aimed at helping students succeed. 

This bulletin is especially essential for seniors planning their futures. 

Mr. Roberto Cruze

Mr. Roberto Cruze, Pueblo’s College and Career Coordinator, emphasizes the importance of this bulletin. One of his goals consists of more seniors having access to the bulletin’s information and to inform the entire school of other academic programs and announcements. 

“It’s ‘GO’ time when it’s your senior year,” he said, emphasizing the importance of students preparing for post-high school life. 

Cruze stated that this bulletin has been accessible to students for several years and has gone through many shapes so that the bulletin is now accessible to students online, which has become especially important this school year due to students not being on campus. 

He stated that the bulletin has piqued the interest of many seniors who are interested in applying for college. In fact, the bulletin has been able to increase the number of student applications for the University of Arizona by 96%, Cruze stated. 

“It’s very important that seniors start mailing their applications,” he said. “We are already halfway through the school year.” 

Cruze said that he does feel some frustration not knowing if all students are reading the important information listed on the bulletins. He makes it easy for students to have access to this important information by adding them to the Warrior Weekly or emailing it directly to teachers who are hopefully passing the bulletins on to students or posting them online. 

“I am considering sending the bulletin directly to students’ emails to confirm they have the bulletin,” Cruze said. 

Cruze said the most enjoyable thing about the bulletin is the variety of information and opportunities offered to students. He added that he would continue to offer the online and print versions of the bulletin for students when Pueblo is reopened. A QR code may also become available for students to access the bulletin through an electronic device. 

“[Seniors], make sure you are getting offers from schools that help you reach your future academic goals,” Cruze said.

Ms. McCormack: Loyal To The End

By Angella Armenta and Kevin Salazar 

Even with the rocky start of the 2020-2021 school year, Pueblo High School’s teachers remain faithful and committed to teaching our Warriors. 

One of those loyal teachers is Ms. Teresa McCormack, who has called Pueblo “home” since the fall of 2018, when she was simultaneously completing a one-year master’s teaching program at the University of Arizona while student-teaching Spanish I and II at PHS. 

McCormack currently teaches ELD I (English) to freshmen and sophomores. 

“I miss my kids!” McCormack said. “I miss the whole interaction with them. I want to come back. I’m not planning to retire nor resign like some teachers did or are. The students at Pueblo are awesome, fun, respectful, and they create an atmosphere not seen or felt in other high schools. The staff and administration at Pueblo played a huge factor in me being at Pueblo.” 

McCormack earned her bachelor’s in education in 2017, with honors, and she taught in Germany a year before coming to Pueblo High School. 

“My husband served in the Air Force for 24 years, and several times we were stationed overseas, including Germany,” she said. “Living there was a once in a lifetime experience.” 

While living abroad on a military installation, McCormack accepted a job as a para-professional working with general and special education high schoolers. 

“It was the best time ever!” McCormack said. “I met students from all over the 50 states, and I still keep in touch with some of them through social media.” 

She said that she chose her teaching field because she wanted to have a positive and influential impact on the next generation. 

“As a teacher’s aide for more than 10 years, I saw a connection that I had with teenagers,” McCormack said. “I did not want to lose that impact on future students who I had not met yet.” 

When students and teachers are allowed to return to campus, McCormack said that she will do everything possible to make her classroom a safe environment. McCormack hopes to be able to help her students in person and to continue giving them positive advice. She added that she wants to continue to encourage her students to follow their dreams in life without obstacles. 

“I can’t wait to come back to the classroom,” McCormack said

From Cross Country Star To Star Counselor

By Sergio Calvillo and Jaime Montaño 

Ms. Kimberly Lamadrid is one of Pueblo High School’s new counselors, although this is not her first counseling position; she transferred from Lawrence Middle School after a year. 

Lamadrid said that she was attracted to Pueblo because of its Latino community. 

“I have immigrant parents, and I understand the different struggles of people,” said Lamadrid. 

Like most employees at Pueblo, Lamadrid said that her work has been affected by Covid-19, and contacting students and their families has been challenging. 

“I really miss the interaction between my students and me,” Lamadrid said. 

When not helping students succeed, she coached Pueblo’s cross country earlier this semester. 

“At least I got to interact with students during this [cross country] activity!” Lamadrid said. 

Lamadrid said that running has always been a part of her life. During her middle school years, she would run around her neighborhood for fun, and later in high school she joined the cross country team; she even continued to run during her college years. 

Despite the challenges of communicating online, Lamadrid said that she does see a future at Pueblo. 

“I want to stay here as long as I can because the Pueblo community is a very exciting place.”

New Math Teacher ‘Adds’ To Staff

by Ismael Angulo, Getsemani Cazares and Easther Zazueta 

Among the two dozen or so new teachers and staff members at Pueblo High School this school year, Ms. Taylor Hall is PHS’s newest math teacher—Algebra I to Freshmen, and Algebra to Response to Intervention (RTI) Freshmen and Sophomores. 

Hall grew up in Iowa, but she moved to California to earn her undergraduate degree at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Immediately following completion of her bachelor’s degree, she attended Stanford University where she earned her graduate degree. Hall looked for a teaching position in California, but she said that she did not find the “right fit”. Taylor moved to Tucson because she had family here, and she decided to try to find a job in Southern Arizona. 

“Mr. Rosthenhausler [principal of Pueblo] reached out and asked me to interview,” Hall said. “The more I looked at Pueblo, I felt like the culture really matched where I wanted to be.” 

Hall, like all teachers at Pueblo thus far this school year, have been teaching online. She said that she will gladly return to the classroom when it is safe for her and her students, but unlike many teachers, Hall seems to have a positive outlook regarding online instruction. 

“I really like teaching online,” she said. “I really enjoy using the technology and the tools to teach with the computer.” 

Hall has some advice for seniors applying to colleges. 

“I never got to know any of my high school teachers very well,” Hall said, “and getting letters of recommendation was very hard. I recommend that students choose teachers they get along with and like—and to keep those relationships continuing because they might need them even after the school year is over.”