We are very excited to announce that Amadis Velez, an English, World History, and college-prep teacher at Mission High School, is our October Teacher of the Month. Mr. Velez’s compassion and dedication to his students far exceed any expectations. To his students, he is much more than a history teacher; he is a mentor and a friend. His dedication to helping his students move on to universities after graduation has the admiration of all of us at 826 Valencia.
Mr. Velez left his job as a lawyer several years ago to become a teacher. Since being at Mission High, Mr. Velez has had a monumental impact on countless lives by working one-on-one with students on the college admissions process. Before they met Mr. Velez, the majority of his students, some of whom are recent immigrants, questioned whether higher education was a possibility. Many consider him to be the reason that they are now attending a university today.
As a teacher, Mr. Velez attempts to make connections between the Modern World History material and the world his students live in. He uses history as a way to encourage and teach critical thinking and writing skills that can be applied beyond his own classroom. Mr. Velez designs fun and relevant lectures that develop a political and cultural awareness in his students. A student of his states that Mr. Velez, “taught [him] that it was more than academics that mattered in education,” and that it is “not only important to learn from classes, but from [his] classmates and peers.”
Beyond his World History and English classroom, Mr. Velez works individually with students, often until late in the night and on weekends, on their college applications. He established a college application and preparation class at Mission High, which aimed at sending students to universities who may have not believed it were possible. Many of his students recall messaging back and forth with him until the wee hours of the morning, going over every step of the process, or spending Thanksgiving break finalizing their applications with his help.
For so many students who organized his nomination, Mr. Velez’s role in their life goes far beyond teaching. Some, like Josselyn Bonilla, met him during a time of “frustration and anger toward the world, the system, and everyone who could not give [her] an answer that would take [her] to college.” Mr. Velez came to Josselyn, and others, “during the time [they] needed him most.” He pushed all of his students to do well in all aspects of their education and sought out opportunities for each individual. Mr. Velez told each of his students that they were capable of getting into the UCs, and his work with them has proved it. Another student of his, who now attends Santa Clara University, considers Mr. Velez “not as a Teacher of the Month, but instead as a Dream Teacher.”
The students of Mission High School are fortunate to have such a passionate teacher, mentor, and friend in Mr. Velez. Congratulations again, Mr. Velez, and keep up the great work!