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Roselawn High teacher works way up from custodial job
Jose Garcia

Jose Garcia worked his way up from bathroom stalls to classrooms to help students better understand the complexities of math as a new teacher at Roselawn Continuation High School.

“When you build a puzzle you want to find the missing pieces,” Garcia said. “It’s like math — when you start a problem, you want to solve it. It is like candy — you keep wanting more.”

Garcia came to America in 1988 from Mexico where he was born and raised, and where his love for math started.

He started out in Livingston where he graduated from high school and continued on to Merced Junior College where he earned his Associates degree in math.

“By that time I knew I wanted to be a teacher,” he said. “In college my friends use to ask for math help and I really liked that moment when I helped them understand math and they got it. I really liked helping others.”

Garcia pushed himself forward in his degree so he could become a teacher and went to school full time for a year and a half at California State University, Stanislaus. But his full-time job was making scheduling difficult for his classes so he took a seven year break from school.

During that seven year break, he formed a family of his own and they were his inspiration to continue on with his education to hopefully become a teacher one day, he said.

“I wanted to provide for my family and set a good example for my son,” Garcia said.

Garcia always knew he wanted to be a teacher and Turlock Unified School District was always on his radar.

He got his foot in the door by working as a night-time custodian at Pitman High School while he attended school full time and did substitute teaching to finish up his credentials.

“I wanted to work for the Turlock Unified School District,” he said. “It was my primary goal.”

Student teaching, custodial work and substituting really helped Garcia learn more about the schools, teachers and district while he substituted at every single school within the district at least once.

“The last year was rough,” Garcia said. “I had to quit substituting half way through the year to do my student teaching.”

But all his hard work paid off when he was hired as a math teacher at Roselawn High two weeks before the 2010/2011 school year started.

“I am really excited and happy,” he said. “I like working with students, helping them achieve their goals and provide them with guidance for the future.”

Now that Garcia’s dream has come true, he continues to push himself to be better at what he does. He wants to work toward his certificate of clearance for his credentials and continue onto his Master’s to further educate himself to keep up with his diverse students. He also hopes to move onto an administrative credential.

“I am very thankful,” Garcia said. “I wouldn’t have been able to do this in Mexico. There are so many opportunities here.”

To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.