EDUCATING THE FUTURE Generation of our country is perhaps the most important job a person can have. For the last three years, New York City educator Geo Morales has stepped up to the plate and made a difference in the lives of many, many students. A high school and college computer teacher, Geo has not only taught his students how to use the internet, he has also inspired them to strive for the best and to reach their goals in life.
Geo Morales path into the education profession came almost through fate. For eight years, he had been working in law enforcement for the district attorneys office. He enjoyed the work, but when he was presented with the opportunity to be a mentor to some students, something really touched him.
Geo says, I went to mentor and teach these kids for a semester, and at the end of the term, I wanted to cry because I had to leave them.
Around that same time, Geo was about to go back to school to attend law school, but instead, he decided to make a career switch and pursue a career in education.
He explains, It just felt like something I really wanted to do. I didnt really care to be in law enforcement and watch people get arrested, anymore. I figured that (by being a teacher) I could help and be a positive role model for a lot of kids.
So Geo enrolled in school to get his teaching credentialsand soon enough became a teacher. He is now teaching computers at a college in Queens, New Yorkand also at an alternative high school in Manhattan for students who have decided not to go the traditional route. In fact, some of these students have dropped out of regular high school or even were kicked out.
About his students, Geo says, I love them and I would never change any of the kids.
For Geo, its those problem students who are his favorites. He adds, Usually, if there is a problem student, they send him or her to my class. At one point, the school had five students, four of whom were females who were terrors. None of the other teachers wanted them in their class, so I got all five of them in my class at one time.
And how was that for Geo? He reveals, They were great! They were sweethearts. They challenged me, and we went back and forth. But I told them about my childhood and how bad I was as a student. I told them, Ive done that, Ive acted that way. Ive come from the same place youve come fromI come from the city.
And by using his lifes experiences to relate to his students, he has earned a certain trust among them. Geo says, When I first started teaching at this high school, I was like, Oh my god, Im going to be teaching high school. But it turned out that all the kids liked me. The kids came to my class wanting to be there. Now, a lot of them even call me Dad, not Mr. Morales, and I love that. Theyre like, Hey, dad!
In addition, Geo remembers another satisfying experience that just happened recently. He says, This year, at the senior graduation, they called my name, and all the kids got up and went wildclapping and yelling. He, furthermore, adds, That was really rewarding.
As if suddenly a realization hits that these students wont be in high school forever, Geo says, I often think about how much Im going to miss themespecially when they graduate. Ive told them, You know, youve got to call me, and come by the school. Suddenly, Geo thinks for a moment then adds, I dont know that I can ever be able to let go.
While its apparent that Geo certainly does care for his students, it is also apparent that his students care for him. In addition to calling him Dad, and just wanting to be in his class, they also show their support by giving him things such as personal cards, etc. Geo adds, They dont know that I keep every card they give me. I mean, everything they make for me, I keep.
BEING A Latino TEACHER
Geo is not out to his students, but he is certainly not afraid to tell them. He says, Once this issue (of qvMagazine) comes out, Im going to bring it to school! I really dont care. And if I make the cover, even better! (he laughs)
how does Geo feel people will react at school if he comes out? Geo says
that he thinks theyll be supportive and says a lot of the people
there are QV friendly.
In thinking how life would have been if he had gone to a high school where there was an openly QV teacher, Geo reveals, It would have definitely made things easier. Especially because I think that we (QV people) need more role models. A lot of times the fact that we dont see people like us as role models makes you think that everybody whos QV has to be a negative.
When asked if he perceives that some of his students might be QV or lesbian, Geo explains, You know, I feel like these children are my kids. I see just them as kids.
COMING OUT TO HIMSELF
Of coming out, Geo says, It was a positive experience. It was slow. It wasnt something that just came out. It was something that slowly evolved inside of me. I was in my early 20s when I started to come out.
By the time he came to accept his sexuality, Geo had already been married with one child. Although Geo is surrounded by his students, he still enjoys being a father. He explains, Im a full-time dad and I take care of my son. Hes with me 24-7. I think that having a son has actually made me a lot more nurturing and has made me want to be a positive role model.
So what would Geo tell other Latinos who are interested in becoming teachers? He says, I would say that its a very rewarding field, especially if you love kids.
The future does look bright for Geo as he is, currently, working on getting a book published. Geo describes the book as very spiritual, and if everything goes well, it should be published by the end of the 2002 year.