During her junior year at the University of Redlands, Jocelyn Garrido ’18, ’20 made a promise to her eighth grade teacher, Paul Lucero ’01, ’07. She committed to send Lucero a Redlands pennant when she graduated so he could display his Bulldog pride in his classroom at Joe Baca Middle School (formerly Bloomington Middle School). After completing her B.A. in liberal studies and Spanish in April, Garrido made good on her word.
With his pennant, Lucero also received a handwritten note from Garrido, which read in part, “Thank you for all the time you put into educating me… you allowed me to dream what once seemed like an impossible dream but what I now know as my reality.”
Lucero taught Garrido through the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program, designed to help students with high academic potential prepare for entrance to colleges and universities. Lucero also taught her younger siblings, and Garrido reconnected with him at her brother’s open house.
“He was the one who planted the Redlands seed for me,” recalls Garrido. “When I was researching schools that offered liberal studies and education programs, I immediately recognized the Redlands name because of him.” After visiting nine different schools on AVID field trips, Garrido knew when she stepped foot on campus that she wanted to follow in her teacher’s footsteps: “When I saw the beautiful palm trees, it just felt like home.”
The first in her family to graduate from college, Garrido is now enrolled in the Master of Arts in Learning and Teaching (MALT) program through the University’s School of Education. “My heart and soul is set in education,” reflects Garrido, who plans to teach elementary school. “I want to set up my students for success.”
Lucero also holds multiple degrees from the University, with a bachelor’s in history, a social science teaching credential, and a master’s in administration. “I’m a proud alumnus,” shares Lucero, whose wife, Brianne Lucero ’03, is also a U of R graduate. “The education programs at Redlands gave me a taste of real classroom life, not just the theoretical. They also taught me the importance of education in overall society and framed teaching as a form of civil service.”
He began his 16th year teaching middle school this fall, and has committed to this age level because he feels it is where he can make the biggest difference. “I’m about at the halfway point of my career,” he says, “and that can cause you to ask yourself questions like ‘What kind of impact am I having on my students?’ Hearing from former students like Jocelyn makes me feel like I did something right.”