“I don’t even know what fifty is supposed to feel like,” said Garza as he spoke to his 7th-period students, as they were asking him why he looks so young for his age.
Ramiro Garza, a U.S. History teacher at Jimmy Carter Early College High School, celebrated his 50th birthday. He currently teaches more than ninety students, helping them learn the country’s history and how the bible has influenced it, and how it plays into the oppression of particular groups of people.
He was born September 23rd, 1969, and grew up in a Catholic household like many Hispanics; he has lived in places like Bakersfield, California. As well as here in South Texas, and even graduated from La Joya High School in 1988. Then he joined the Army and even went to West Point. He also served as an assistant pastor. Garza earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Pan-American University in Texas and his Masters of Arts with a concentration in History in Interdisciplinary Studies. As per his biography on the Jimmy Carter website, Garza teaches History 1301: United States History I & History 1302: United States History II as well as regular high school U.S. history. He also actively runs a couple of miles every morning and has a wife and three kids.
Q: How has your view on life changed throughout the years?
“Wow…that’s a very broad question, how my view on life has changed how the years. I don’t know where to start, um, there’s several different views I’ve had. My view point changed in life from high school to joining the Army. That was a change, I got to see things in a different light compared to when I was in high school. For example, going to high school or being in high school in the 80’s I couldn’t see past Friday. I lived life waiting for the weekend to come, but that’s as far as I could see. Then when I joined the Army – I was a little older – the outlook changed a little bit. I got to meet different people, got to be in different places. Then got married at the time, then had two kids during that time, then yeah the outlook changed. Then I got out of the army, continued to work a job, get educated. The education changed my perspective – religious education. Then after I got a secular education, then my outlook on life changed again, and understood things in a different way. Now it’s that new perspective is one I teach my students that I have today.” said Garza.
Q: Why did you decide to become a history teacher?
“To offer that new perspective.”
Q: How do you feel about the introduction of technology to Generation Z, those born between 1995 to 2015, as they are heavily reliant on it even today?
“Yeah, heavily reliant on it, it’s a good thing and a bad thing. The good thing is that you guys have information available to you – that you all hardly ever use. For example, if I introduce a word in class…conundrum, for example. If I say ,’we’re in a conundrum right now.’ Most students in class, won’t bother to look it up. Meaning they can easily use google to define that word. Most students won’t, and so you have available all of this information that you have access to. But most students won’t do it or at least the students that I work with here. So it’s a good thing and a bad thing, if you guys were to use it more often. You guys have more access to information than my generation ever had…so it’s a good thing and a bad thing – it is a blessing and a curse.”
Q: Who was your role model at the age of sixteen, a usual 11th grader’s age in high school.
“I had a really good teacher by the name of Gwen Marshall. She was a health occupation teacher at the time. She wasn’t anything that I could say that she was a very fancy lady. She was very influential, just in a very standard way. She was a plain person, she was an educated person. She had sound judgement, if that makes any sense. She talked like a grown-up. She wasn’t a teacher who was really trying to fit in. She just basically acted her age, and I think that’s what made me respect her and I wanted to get her approval when I was in her class.”
Q: How were you like during the age of sixteen.
“At the age of sixteen, I was a big time risk taker. I would do a lot of stuff that my parents didn’t know that I was doing. I wasn’t hurting anybody, but if my parents were there they would’ve never wanted for me to do it. I had a really good time, if there any time in my life where I would wanna go back in time, it would be to be sixteen again. It was a very good age, a really good time for music. Just because I’m a child of the 80’s probably some of the best rock and roll music that ever came out, came out in the 1980’s. And I got to live different places, not only here in the Rio Grande Valley, but I got to live in Bakersfield, California, Hereford, Texas. You get a different feel of people when you live in those two different states, or two different cities. It was really good.”
Q: How do you feel American politics have changed through the years?
“American politics, they really haven’t changed, the craziness still happens. It’s just happening with different names. The only difference here, probably, is…how fast we get the information. In the old days it wasn’t that fast, we didn’t have twenty-four hour news. Nowadays we do, and so when something happens it’s happening on the hour every hour, and so we have all of this access to that. Politics from…way back in the 1800’s to the 1900’s to the 2000’s now. Politicians have done some wild and crazy things from having sexual affairs with people, blacks, whites. To trying manipulate the system to get reelected. It’s all the same, it’s just playing out in different years with different names.”
Q: What one significant life experience has impacted your life in a substantial way?
“Um, several ones, but one in particular. When you have your own kids. Your outlook or the impact of life, of having them around changes you. You now know that you’re responsible for raising somebody. For teaching them right from wrong. It’s a very heavy responsibility.”
Q: What is something you want us as teenagers to understand?
“That life isn’t easy. Things are not always given to you. You have to work for them, when you get them appreciate them. Watch what you say and how you say it. Love people, be appreciative, be mindful when somebody does something nice for you. Recognize that. Use words wisely, tell a friend that you love ’em, hug your mom, kiss your grandma. Things like that, I don’t think people really pay attention to people and – I think people take people for granted. People think they’re always gonna have somebody but they don’t.”
Edit: Oct. 31,2019