Teachers of the year are recognized for being exceptional, dedicated, knowledgeable, and skilled teachers in active teaching status. For this reason, on June 3, 2022, Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) had the unique opportunity to name Jamie Garcia Caycho—a 1st grade teacher at Arcado Elementary School who was selected as the 2022 runner-up during the original evaluation process—to represent GCPS as the 2022 Teacher of the Year.
Prior to earning the school system’s top honor, Mrs. Garcia Caycho was named as the 2022 Gwinnett County Elementary School Teacher of the Year in December.
One of Jamie Garcia Caycho’s goals is to make learning accessible for all. She empowers students by providing opportunities for them to see their cultures and backgrounds represented in the classroom as well as gain an understanding and appreciation of others’ cultures and backgrounds.
“When children see examples of people that look, talk, or come from places just like them, that affirms that their own backgrounds are valuable and important.”
Mrs. Garcia Caycho has a first-hand understanding of the challenges many families face supporting their children academically as she and her family immigrated to the United States from Mexico when she was seven years old. As a result of her experiences, she decided to take action when she saw that Hispanic students in her school were underperforming in academic areas in comparison to other groups of students. She explains, “Knowing that I have a unique advantage of speaking Spanish fluently, I initially thought of hosting parent workshops for my class in Spanish, but, through collaboration with my colleagues, this idea transformed into something bigger and better.”
Her initial outreach to her administration led to the establishment of a parent outreach program called H.E.R.O.E. (Hispanos Esforzandose por Resultados, Oportunidades, y Exito, which translates to Hispanics Making Efforts for Results, Opportunities, and Success). The outreach program consists of administrators, ESOL teachers, the parent liaison, and Mrs. Garcia Caycho and encompasses professional learning for teachers as well as community-building and instructional support for families.
“Throughout the year, the school hosts H.E.R.O.E. nights for families to share dinner, build relationships with school personnel, and participate in workshops led by teachers, all in Spanish,” Mrs. Garcia Caycho says. “These workshops provide families with important information, lessons, tools, and resources that they can use to support their children at home and overall become more involved in school.”