This May, Dr. Edwin Gomez, Riverside County Superintendent of Schools, visited Anthony Gomez in his classroom to announce that the dual immersion social studies teacher is a 2023 Riverside County Teacher of the Year.
“I’ve thought about this day as a possibility, and for everybody to be here, today, it is overwhelming,” said the Jurupa Middle teacher. Also there to witness the announcement were Mr. Gomez’s students, his family, and JUSD Superintendent Dr. Trenton Hansen. “I’d like to thank my students, because you are the motivation for everything I do,” continued Mr. Gomez.
Anthony Gomez attended Jurupa Unified schools from elementary through high school and did not encounter many Hispanic men in positions of authority, which inspired him to become a teacher in his largely Hispanic community. “We have a lot of Hispanic students,” said Mr. Gomez. “I wanted them to be able to see someone [Hispanic] in a position of power and see themselves in that person.”
Even as a substitute teacher, Mr. Gomez experienced instant connections with his students. “There was something very special to them to see themselves in me,” he said. This connection endured even through difficult times such as the COVID-19 pandemic. In March of 2020, Mr. Gomez uploaded his first video to his YouTube channel, Teaching Juntos
, after students suggested he make educational videos so they could continue learning during the first lockdown.
Because there are not many U.S. History videos available in Spanish, the channel became a staple of Mr. Gomez’s curriculum during distance learning. Much of the content is inspired by his wife, Cristian, who appears in Mr. Gomez’s “cringy rap videos.” “We inspire each other and we give each other ideas all the time,” said Mr. Gomez of Cristian, who teaches at Pedley Elementary.
Now back to teaching in person, Mr. Gomez also records classroom lessons to help fellow teachers. “There's nothing better than being able to see a teacher actually do the lesson with real students,” he said. Mr. Gomez seeks to be a resource for other teachers because of the invaluable teacher mentors who helped make him the educator he is today.
One such teacher, Kevin Roughton, currently teaches at Patriot High School and is a 2011 Riverside County Teacher of the Year. Mr. Roughton was an inspiration to Mr. Gomez during his time at Jurupa Middle School. “He had been teaching for such a long time, and still every single day he did his best and he made sure that every year was better than the previous year,” said Mr. Gomez.
According to the Riverside County Office of Education, Riverside County Teachers of the Year are selected from nearly 20,000 county educators. Anthony Gomez and three other finalists will represent Riverside County in the 2023 California Teacher of the Year competition.
“The best thing about teaching are the students,” said Mr. Gomez. “They have a love of learning and it really feels great to hear all the positive feedback from them. That really is what motivates me year after year to try to do an even better job.”