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.

Welcome, ‘Queen Bee’!

Elizabeth Olguin & Ivan Rosas

The Pueblo community welcomes Ms. Marie Jose Queen Bee Libe, who moved to Tucson from the Philippines last month.

Libe taught Filipino and the value of education in the Philippines for high school students before moving to the United States to teach 11th grade English. 

“As a teacher, it has always been my dream to educate in the U.S.,” she said.

Libe expressed that there are a lot of teachers in the Philippines who would like to teach in America and experience different cultures.

Coming to Pueblo was definitely a culture shock, as education is very different in this country, Libe said.

“One of the classes we teach back in the Philippines is about values,” Libe said, “that stresses the importance of education. I do have to admit that children in the Philippines love education maybe more than America.”

Thus far, Libe said that her transition to this country and this new school has been smooth and added that Pueblo High School is very systematic.

“Pueblo is also very unique,” Libe said. “I like how Pueblo has their own radio station!”

Libe’s has several professional goals this school year including working on self-improvement and honing her teaching skills.

Everybody at Pueblo High School wishes her the absolute best this 2019-20 school year!

“I feel very welcomed here at Pueblo,” she added. 

…And Assistant Principal Gunnels Makes Four

by Adamaris Castillo

New this school year to the administrative family at Pueblo High School is former English teacher Ms. Kathryn Gunnels, who officially begins as assistant principal with a long list of responsibilities, including the planning of meetings for teachers (Professional Learning Communities), supervising advanced learning opportunities, finalizing the master schedule and organizing student-testing events.

She also communicates to staff via a weekly update on teachers’ computer work stations.

“This is the hardest job I’ve ever had,” Gunnels said, “but I also love it—not only to help students but also to support Pueblo’s great teaching staff.”

Gunnels, who taught English for 10 years at Pueblo (in two separate time periods), actually fulfilled her student-teaching assignment under the supervision of Mr. Manny Galvan, who retired a few years ago (but occasionally substitute-teaches) and Ms. Marci Bowman, who also retired from teaching.

“I knew then [while student-teaching] that Pueblo was a special place,” Gunnels said. “I may have left Pueblo for a few years [to pursue other positions], but I’m definitely back, and it feels like a second home.”

She revealed that education was not her first career choice. Gunnels said that she majored in business, but after mentoring at the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind, she was inspired to become an educator.

And, as far as being the fourth employee with the surname “Gunnels” to be employed at Pueblo High School, Assistant Principal Gunnels said, “We have a rule at our house at the dinner table. My husband, two sons and I are not allowed to talk about school.”

Husband Mr. Michael Gunnels is a communications media tech teacher; son Jeren is a transition school-to-work instructional specialist; and other son, Derek, is an exceptional education teacher.

“I’m here [as an assistant principal] especially for our students,” Gunnels said. “I want students to know that when they make mistakes or face monumental obstacles, it’s not the end of the world. I want to help them realize that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I want to help them find solutions to their problems.”

She added, “I want our students at Pueblo to know that they can do anything with their lives—they have the potential to achieve greatness.”

Mr. Nicolas Pitts: ‘Pueblo Is the Place To Be’

by Bryan Bueno

Mr. Nicolas Pitts

Mr. Nicolas Pitts is one of the many new staff hired here at Pueblo High School this year, and he said that he is definitely ready to teach!

As a new biology teacher, Pitts feels as if he can make a huge impact on the Pueblo freshmen in his classroom.

“I think biology is the foundation of biotech, which is the future of technology,” he said. “I really want them to make that connection.”

After graduating from Tucson High Magnet School in 2009 and then from the University of Arizona, Pitt traveled to Columbia (South America); he lived there from the ages of 23 through 25.

Pitts said he applied for teaching position at Pueblo because “it’s close to home and his culture” and because he wanted to help build Pueblo’s rich community.

“I feel good very comfortable at Pueblo so far,” Pitts said.

Besides his love of many sports (including riding his bike), Pitts said that he loves to practice speaking Spanish. Pitts said that he also likes “reggaeton” music and claims that Farruko is his favorite artist in this music genre.

At 26 years old, Pitts said that he has a lot planned for his first year at Pueblo, despite not knowing for sure how much longer he wants to remain in Tucson.

“If I stay in Tucson, Pueblo is the place where I want to be,” he said.

Let’s Welcome Dr. Wiley To PHS!

By Victor Garcia

New to our Warrior Family this school year is Dr. Christine Wiley, who is starting the 2016-17 school year as a new ELD (English Language Development) teacher to educate students whose primary language is not English.

Wiley has a very eclectic teaching resumé. She taught for a while at the University of California (at Irvine) and even taught English in Japan to junior high school Japanese students. This is Wiley’s first year teaching high school students.

“I grew up in Tucson, so in essence I moved back home,” Wiley said. “I decided that I really wanted to teach ELD in public education. It seemed like a perfect fit considering my past teaching experience.”

There are four levels of ELD classes, and each ELD student is placed in one of these levels depending upon their level of expertise. Beginning English learners are enrolled in ELD 1; those students who are almost ready to transition to a “regular” English class are enrolled in ELD 4.  This year, Wiley teaches ELD levels 3 and 4, which includes students in all four grades of high school.

Wiley said her goal for this year is to be the best teacher that she can be and help students achieve their academic goals.

“Even though this is my first semester here, I can tell that I already like Pueblo’s students,” Wiley said. “They are all very nice and very caring.”