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Waxahachie, TX

June 21, 2019 | Andrew Hurst

Three alumni from Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) received awards for their outstanding work as educators this past school year.

All three individuals received their undergraduate degrees from SAGU’s Education Department.

The award recipients include:

-Ismael Ortega, 4th Grade Teacher for Life School at Oak Cliff

-Gary Moss, 7th Grade History Teacher for Midlothian, Texas ISD

-Samantha Orosco, 5th Grade Reading Teacher for Mesquite, Texas ISD

“I am very proud of Ismael, Gary and Samantha for their outstanding service in the classroom where they have demonstrated content mastery, compassion, values and servant leadership,” says Dr. Sue Taylor, Dean of the College of Business and Education.

SAGU offers a wide range of education degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate levels allowing students to specialize and grow in their chosen fields and callings as educators. Many of these degrees are offered 100 percent online!

“Students leave SAGU well-equipped to meet the demands of an ever-changing, challenging environment of today’s classrooms because of our faculty and staff who are driven by their  unwavering commitment to student success,” says Dr. Taylor. “I feel truly blessed to lead such a dynamic group of students, faculty and staff who have chosen to serve in the field of education.”

To learn more about the degrees SAGU offers in teacher education, click here .

Ismael Ortega, Life School District Teacher of the Year Ismael Ortega, 4th Grade Teacher for Life School at Oak Cliff

District Teacher of the Year Award

Years of Experience: 17

Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, 2000

Q: What inspires you the most as a teacher?

You learn so much from these kids and you see their gifts, their leadership qualities. You see their potential. As a result, you start developing dreams for them and their lives. That’s what drives me. I want them to fulfill that potential. It may not be exactly the dream I see for them but I want them to be successful and to contribute to society one day.

Q: How did SAGU prepare you for your career?

I had a great experience at Southwestern and if I could go back, I would choose Southwestern all over again. Once I got into my classroom and began teaching-that is when I relied heavily on what I learned at Southwestern and putting those things into practice. Having those small classes and getting that individual teaching is what really helped me.

Q:  How does your faith impact the way you teach?

Oh, it’s a major part. My first 15 years as an educator were through public school and my faith wasn’t something I could outwardly share with students. Fortunately, I was blessed to have an administration that believed in prayer.

Through 17 years of teaching, I have noticed that the struggles and the intensity of those struggles my students have to go through has gotten harder. Now that I am at Life School where there is more freedom to share about my beliefs, I can intercede for students and let them know there is someone praying for them who cares about them. That means a lot for these kids.

Gary Moss, Midlothian ISD Secondary Teacher of the Year Gary Moss, 7th Grade History Teacher for Midlothian, Texas ISD

Secondary Teacher of the Year

Years of Experience: 6

Bachelor of Arts in Education, 2012

Q: Can you tell me about the award and how you felt receiving it?

Our campuses and peers voted and then we had a short interview process with the school board members. From there, they selected one elementary and one secondary District Teacher of the Year. I was humbled and honored to receive the award. It was very unexpected because I was going up against the best of the best!

Q: How would you say SAGU prepared you to go into education?

In my opinion, SAGU has the best teacher education program. The training I received not only in the curriculum or content area but from the professors and mentor teachers themselves and the amount of time and effort they put into their work was great. They talked to me on a personal level to see how I was doing. I felt well prepared by the time I graduated and was looking for a job.

Q: What are you most excited about as you continue your career in education?

Mostly just learning and watching the kids grow. This year was especially meaningful for me because this was the first year in which I got to see kids I taught back when they were in 7th grade now graduate from high school. It just seemed like yesterday that they were sitting in my class in 7th grade but now they are going off to college and starting their lives and careers. To me, it’s a blessing to see that and know that I played a role in developing that student.

Samantha Orosco, 5th Grade Reading Teacher for Mesquite, Texas ISD

First Class Teacher Award

First-year teacher

Bachelor of Arts in Education (Early Childhood Specialization), 2018

Q: How did it feel being recognized for your first year as a teacher?

It was incredible! Our administration chose one new teacher that was exceeding expectations and took a vote and me and one other teacher received the award. I was really excited because you just do so much work in the classroom and you pour into these kids so much. Sometimes, you’re not sure if the kids are seeing that. Though I am not teaching to be recognized, it definitely is good and rewarding when that is seen!

Q: How was your first year and how did SAGU prepare you?

It was wonderful. I felt very supported by all of Mesquite. Our principal was actively involved and we had a really good reading specialist.

Before I started teaching, I remember praying over the classroom. I prayed for each of the students individually and the team I was on. I learned that-the power of prayer from SAGU. Thankfully, Mesquite’s leadership also believes in emphasizing values like SAGU. We prayed together as a team and for each other. Whenever things got hard or difficult, I fell back on prayer.

Q: Was there a specific memory or experience from SAGU that impacted you as a student?

Dr. Strange (Assistant Professor). She was one of my professors and she used to be a principal. I asked her so many questions! There was one time I told her that I felt I am not sure if I am putting forth my best work and meeting my own standards or expectations. She told me, “I am glad you said that. There is an assignment you turned in and I feel like you could do much better.” She made me redo the assignment. It made me realize that she really believed in me and had high expectations of me. That was a moment for me that impacted the way that I teach my kids. I have high expectations of them because I believe in them and what they can do.

Q: What are you most looking forward to this next year of teaching?

I just married and my husband and I accepted positions to teach in China this next year! I am so excited to go to China and make an impact in the lives of students over there!

As a leading Christian university, SAGU educates and prepares individuals who want to serve Christ and others. SAGU helps students discover and develop their God-given callings in a Spirit-empowered, learning community.

We believe in affordable tuition, made possible in part through the financial support of donors who embrace the mission of SAGU and the importance of affordable, accredited programs to train Christians for leadership in ministry, business, education, and service.

Most majors are available in-person in Waxahachie, TX, and online through a wide range of associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.

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