Nearly 75 percent of teachers enter a program because they value the role education plays in improving a child’s life.  


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James YbarraJames Ybarra

  • Robert Peary Middle School, Gardena, Los Angeles Unified School District
  • Grades 6-8, ELL English and History
  • U.S. Army Retired after 23 years of aviation service as a Chief Warrant Officer and Instructor Pilot

His story
While flying in El Salvador in 1986, James landed his helicopter in a remote area and was surrounded by hundreds of El Salvadoran school children. As soon as they knew he could speak Spanish, James was bombarded with questions. The children asked him everything from how does a helicopter fly to what’s life like living on a post. With every answer came ten more questions. James loved seeing their faces light up with a smile from understanding. It was the first time he realized this was what he wanted to do when he retired.

For James, an alternative certification program fit his needs perfectly. It allowed him to spend time with his own children, coaching them athletically as they grew up, and do what he so dearly wanted: to give back to other children. Coming from a military family that has served this country in uniform for over 200 years, James continues to serve today by sharing his experience and expertise in the classroom. In 2008, he was nominated as Middle School Teacher of the Year.

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