Teacher Wins Esperanza Award
Esperanza means hope, and no one demonstrates that more than Julio Rubio, who gave hope and a kidney to his ailing daughter, and gives hope to students and staff every day as a Spanish teacher at South Mountain High School. Rubio was recently selected as a 2012 Chicanos Por La Causa and SRP Esperanza Award winner, honoring Latino teachers who inspire students of all backgrounds, play an active role in the school, and demonstrate a true commitment to the community.
Rubio is one of four educators who was recognized, each of whom will receive a stipend and a $2,500 donation to their respective schools. The Esperanza winners will also receive a 50 percent scholarship towards a masters or doctoral program at the Argosy University.
Rubio teaches Spanish 1-2, Spanish Honors and Spanish Advanced Placement, a class in which every student passed the AP exam. The fifth-year teacher who was selected as South’s Teacher of the Year this year, is also an AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) teacher, utilizing college-preparation strategies. He is active in school and community, co-advising for M.E.Ch.A, LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) and the Spanish Honor Society. Each year he sponsors and choreographs a group of student folklórico dancers to provide cultural performances for the school and he hosts visiting high school student performers from Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. He presents a Día de los Muertos school-wide competition and organizes the Cesar Chavez assembly each year. He is involved with Promise Arizona, assisting community members with voter registration. This year, he organized an information session on Deferred Action for students, parents and community members. When Kimberly Osuna was selected as the City of Phoenix District 8 Youth of the Year last spring, she cited Rubio as the person who has had the most positive influence on her future.
“I feel very honored to receive such a recognition. I love my profession and I do what I do for the benefit of my students. Receiving the Esperanza award recognizes the hard work that not only I, but other Latino teachers around the state, do to help our students and our community,” Rubio said.
Rubio’s positive energy was put to the test when he learned, in 2011, his three-year-old daughter Fernanda had meningococcal meningitis. As her condition worsened, doctors had to amputate both of her legs below the knee. In February, Rubio donated his kidney to Fernanda. By spring break, both father and daughter were back to school.
Rubio is homegrown, graduating from Camelback High School in 2003 and serving as an instructional assistant at Maryvale High in the Phoenix Union District for two years prior to earning his BS in Secondary Education at Arizona State University. He earned a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University last year.
Other 2012 Esperanza winners are Ana Gutierrez of Longview Elementary (Osborn District), Carmen Sanchez Gore of Herrera Elementary (Phoenix Elementary District) and Patricia Wharton of Shaw Butte Elementary (Washington District).
Rubio joins fellow Phoenix Union teachers and Esperanza winners Selina Alonzo, Maryvale and Guadalupe Meza, South Mountain (2010) and Vanessa Valenzuela, Carl Hayden (2009).