Teachers are the world’s greatest unsung heroes, so to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, we asked students to tell us what makes their favorite teacher a superhero. After reading the nomination story for Diego Ojeda—a Spanish teacher from Louisville, Kentucky—we knew he certainly fit the cape.
Get to know the superhero—in his own words:
Special power: Creating community in the classroom—a fun and safe place for each student.
Origin story: At first, teaching was a job—but then I saw the dedication my wife put into preparing every class. Trying to emulate her made me a real teacher.
Kryptonite: Anything my daughter wants.
Here’s what Señor Ojeda’s student, Ethan H., had to say in his nomination story:
Diego Ojeda sees his students as more than just his students, he sees them as his family. He has raised awareness at our school for Down Syndrome research. He is the adviser for our school’s multicultural club as well as our Spanish club, and above all he truly loves and cares about the school and the students there.
He is the living embodiment of our mission statement. He has helped students become more globally aware, he has helped students who struggled with the Spanish language to find a revived passion for the subject, and he has demonstrated extraordinary character and a willingness to aid our community every year he has been here. He embodies our four cornerstones of Respect, Responsibility, Compassion, and Honor that we hope to instill in all the students at Collegiate. He serves as an example of the good that comes out of following those guidelines.
Diego is a family man, and there is no one he loves more than his wife and child. Señor has a child with Down Syndrome. The reason I see Señor as a hero is because he has always put his family and students before himself. Every year he always gets up in front of the student body to invite us to the Down Syndrome awareness walk in Louisville and every year on Down Syndrome Awareness Day he asks students to come in wearing mismatched socks to raise awareness for the issues his daughter and others in different communities are going through. He never asks students for any donations on these days, and in fact, for every student who comes to see him wearing mismatched socks on Down Syndrome Awareness Day he donates a dollar out of his own pocket to Down Syndrome research. If you think about it, if he sees a quarter of the high school that’s about 50–60 dollars he is giving out on his own dime. He is always willing to help out other communities and families besides his own family and school community. I am fairly positive that if he were to accept any monetary award, most of it would go towards an organization that dealt with Down Syndrome research or awareness.
Over the summer, my school will be taking an EF trip to the Galápagos Islands. Although the Galápagos Islands are beautiful, the real reason I signed up is because of the passion I have for the Spanish culture and language that Señor instilled in me over the two years that I took his courses.
He and I talk a lot during school hours, and I’ve come to realize how invested he is in his students. Every time I ask him how his classes are going his face lights up and he tells me about how proud he is of the students who were struggling and how much he has seen them improve and become more active in the class, and how I was the same when I started his class.
I am sorry to have gone on for so long in this explanation, but I feel like there are just so many examples of what makes Señor Ojeda a superhero to not only me, but to my school community and other communities here in Louisville. I could only hope that one day I would be anything like Señor, because in my mind he is exactly what I would want to be like when I am older. Thank you to whoever is reading this for your time learning about my superhero and I hope you strongly consider him for this award.
To thank Diego for his service, we rewarded him with a $1,000 school donation as well as a trip to New York City. And to thank all teachers, we’re lighting the Empire State Building in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week. See it shine in EF’s signature pink on Friday, May 11. After all, superhero teachers deserve a super-large spotlight.