By Karley Bailey
“Mr. Miguel.” Anybody who ever finds themselves on the Tustin High School premises will hear that name frequently. It might be hushed across the plaza by one of his AP Calc students who or might even be mentioned by another teacher praising his unfathomable passion. Nonetheless, it has become norm over the last ten years since Mr. Miguel has started teaching for the student body to use his class as a daily topic of conversation. It seems that everyday, I hear the name “Mr. Miguel” being said a minimum of ten times in second period alone. But it’s hardly ever the seniors nagging about their test scores or discussions related to derivatives; the majority of the time it’s junior, Adrian Ruiz, exclaiming his anticipation for his fifth period class, Algebra 2-Trig. It’s highly unlikely for any teenager to have any excitement for math class, and it’s a particularly excruciating idea for students like Adrian who claim to “hate math;” but because of Mr. Miguel’s enthusiasm and exuberant ways of teaching, kids like Adrian find the circle of logs enticing.
Mr. Miguel calls his unsustainable enthusiasm within teaching a passion for helping kids rather than a passion for mathematics itself. Since he was a teenager himself, Mr. Miguel found an abundance of joy by helping others succeed in their endeavors through coaching swim and diving. Then is when he considered his underlying talent of guidance; of showing individuals how to exceed their preconceived capability within any aspect of life. He later pursued both acting and pre-medicine in college, but soon realized that his true talents lie within mathematics. And despite his prior dreams of fame, he feels more than lucky to have found a career in which he can relinquish his love for helping others. He exclaims assuredly, “helping others with their academics will in turn, help them chase and follow their dreams.” This ideology is the fundamental root of Mr. Miguel’s passion; and through exuding excitement for the student’s newfound attainment of knowledge he believes that it will retrospectively allow for a redemption of their own self motivation.
Students are not only motivated by Mr. Miguel’s personal excitement, but also from the unique learning environment he creates. Senior Rodrigo Velazquez, explains, “When I walk into Mr. Miguel’s class, it’s really different from any other class. I don’t look at the clock a lot and wait for the bell to ring—I actually really enjoy it. He makes it fun for us.” For some students, the uplifting environment is due to the constant background music which implements an at-ease ambiance for learning and for others it’s Mr. Miguel’s alternative methods of teaching. Even Mr. Barry is inspired by Mr. Miguel, “When I first started teaching I would watch Mr. Miguel so I could learn how to be a good teacher. I know I wouldn’t be the teacher I am today if not for him.”
Contrary to most teachers, Mr. Miguel is receptive towards failure. He teaches his students to accept failure as one of the most valuable mechanisms within comprehending a concept. Mr. Miguel elaborated on this, saying, “It’s okay to fail. In order to have success in mathematics you have to make mistakes and grow from them. In order to have success in the next level, you have to be intrinsically motivated, you have to be self motivated. That if you don’t understand something what are YOU going to do to figure it out.” His overall aspiration is for his students to leave his class with not merely with a set of mathematical skills, but a self discipline that will guide them throughout their whole lives.