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San Elizario High School Honored Ex

Ms. Araceli Najera

 

SAN ELIZARIO, TX – San Elizario High School is proud to announce Ms. Araceli Najera as the Honored Alumni for 2020.  Ms. Najera is a bilingual teacher at Josefa L. Sambrano Elementary School in the San Elizario Independent School District (SEISD).  

Mrs. Najera is married to Jose Najera and has a daughter named Alexis Najera, and son Gabriel Anthony Najera who is also a SEISD Graduate.  Her parents are Jose and Ofelia Villa.  Mrs. Najera began her employment with SEISD in 1994 and takes pride in helping the basketball and baseball programs at the high school with fundraisers and concessions. 

In her 26 years of service with SEISD, Ms. Najera states, "My students inspire me.  Seeing their faces when they grasp a concept that they have been struggling with gives me the motivation to continue doing what I'm doing."  She is especially proud to have a former 1st-grade student, Mr. Javier Rodriguez, teaching kinder alongside her.  She adds, "I always tell my students that I was just like them.  I grew up in San Eli, and if I can do it, so can they!"  One of her favorite quotes is from Ralph Waldo Emerson "The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be." 

Najera's message to her students is different from the one that she and her graduating class received from a former teacher at San Elizario High School when were told they were not smart enough to go to college.  "When you are poor, you are seen by the world as NOT smart.  This made me want to prove everyone wrong.  Just because you are economically disadvantaged does not mean you are dumb.  And this is the message I try to instill in my students.  If you work hard enough on what you want in life you will accomplish anything you set your mind to do."  She vividly recalls another difficult moment, which was "Being told by my English teacher that I was not smart enough to go to college was a defining moment for me.  This made me want to prove her wrong." 

With the help of Mr. Frank G. Duran, who Najera says, "Always believed in me, I was able to prove my English teacher wrong.”  Her path to becoming a teacher was ultimately inspired by her former teacher, Mr. Duran.  She states, "He was one of the very few Hispanic teachers we had here in the district.  I saw him, and decided I wanted to be an inspiration to others just like he was to me."  

According to Mrs. Irene Jaquez, SEISD Board Vice President and daughter to Mr. Duran, he lived across Alarcon Elementary School where he started teaching science at the age of 22, teaching special education and eventually becoming an administrator.  His 30-year career in San Elizario also spanned serving students in numerous capacities such as a bus driver, football coach, and director of special education.  Jaquez states, "He was involved in Brown vs the State Board of Education alongside other Region 19 administrators and he just loved the kids and had a soft spot for all, especially the troublemakers.  They all remember him for getting swatted with his paddle but had great respect for him because they knew he was fair and had their best interest in mind." Najera agrees, "He always pushed me to do my best and not let anyone put me down because of where I was from." She credits Mr. Duran for molding her into the person she is now.  

One of Ms. Najera's proudest moments is being a first-generation high school and college graduate.  Najera adds, "No one in my family had ever finished high school; so, graduating from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) was one of my proudest moments for me and my entire family.” 

San Elizario High School will honor Ms. Najera on social media through a commemorative alumni slideshow and a homecoming court video.  The San Elizario High School Homecoming football game against Fabens is scheduled for Monday, October 26, 2020, at 7:00 p.m.