Bryan An exemplary educator with the Bryan Independent School District has been making an impact in the lives of his students by teaching them more than just reading and writing.
Augustin Lara grew up in Mexico and experienced many hard and difficult times. His desire for others not to experience the hardships he suffered as a child is what encouraged him to enter the classroom. For 16 years, Lara's been a bilingual education teacher at Neal Elementary, but it's outside the classroom where his flair for teaching has taught his students how to dance their way towards their dreams.
When Lara decided to become a teacher he knew it wasn't only going to be a job, for Mr. Lara as he's been called by hundreds of students, teaching was a calling and early on his students learned that the lessons don't end when the school bell rings at the end of the day.
Augustin Lara says, "I do tutorials after school, I do tutorials on Saturday's but also I have a Ballet Folkorico, which basically I teach them Mexican dances."
By teaching his student dancers the complex steps and movements of traditional Mexican dances, his students learn dedication and discipline. Though it's hard work, Lara's extracurricular lessons serve to inspire and motivate his young pupils.
"I just want to keep them busy after school so they can do something positive," says Lara.
For this dedicated and enthusiastic educator, failure is not an option. Besides achieving good grades, Lara's hope for his kids is much greater.
Lara says, "My goal's to see them growing up and become successful citizens in a community."
And as his students achieve success in the classroom and grow into adulthood, many of his former students are left with the memory of a kind, charismatic and caring person who believed in them. Most of the children see an image of a teacher and coach they want emulate.
Maria Vega, a former student says, "I was fortunate enough to be in his classroom and that inspired me to become a bilingual teacher."
Though his students mean the world to him, because Lara keeps himself constantly booked and busy with numerous projects, he's never attended any of his kids' high school or college graduations.
Despite not being there in person, Lara says, "They know that deep in my heart, I'm with them and they know they can county on me for anything, any kind of support."
Mr. Lara is currently working on his PhD in Bilingual Education at Texas A&M University and has one more year before he's finished. Besides working with his dance group which performs at schools, nursing homes and other community events at no cost, Lara also finds time to translate documents for those who ask and help families working with Habitat for Humanity.