Educator Spotlight: Joe Marquez
Tech trainer and former coach motivates teachers by surpassing his own goals
This story is part of a weekly series that celebrates outstanding teachers in our Flipgrid community. Stories by Angela Tewalt.
Earlier this year, California educator Joe Marquez was in Seattle, Washington, offering a tech training when a teacher said to him bluntly, “I don’t get it. I’m trying to learn, and I want to understand, but technology just doesn’t come easy to me.”
As a seasoned trainer and former football coach, Joe was ready to rally with an upbeat response. He was completely prepared to lean in and empathize that he once felt that way, too, but that he gave himself time and patience to learn, and that technology doesn’t make us weak. It only enhances our strengths!
But before he could even jump in, she continued with a question that not only had no one ever asked Joe before but that has since turned his life around for the better: “Is there anything you’ve ever wanted in your life that you either just couldn’t start or never saw yourself finishing?”
“For weeks, I could not get her question out of my head,” says Joe, who works as the director of Academic Innovation for CUE. “And the answer to her question was yes, actually. I’d always wanted to get back into shape.
“But as a teacher, it’s so hard, right? You wake up at 5:30, in class by 6:30 and you teach till 6 at night. You’re tired. Repeat all that times 10 years. Man, you can get out of shape. But suddenly we were in the middle of a pandemic. I was working from home. So I said to myself, ‘If I can endure the pain and struggle of running again and losing weight, then maybe I can start empathizing with the struggle teachers endure when they’re just starting out with something new.’ ”
That was March 17 of this year, when Joe weighed 260 pounds. Today, he weighs 165 and never misses a daily 10-mile run for teachers just like her. Right now, we’re all experiencing something new, pushing ourselves now more than ever, and we’re fighting. Joe’s just proving to all of us that we can.
“I keep telling teachers, ‘You have a voice that matters,’ ” Joe says. “You may think that what you say or what you do isn’t special, but that one teacher spoke the truth to me that day, and I now have a new appreciation for hard work and for overcoming what we deem as impossible.
“Her voice has had such an impact! I can’t say it enough: Speak your truth, speak encouraging words to one another, and a find a way to be joyful about yourself.”