By Isaiah Sotelo
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.