When Alfredo Garcia Jr. stepped onto a football field to kick a football in front of thousands of spectators, he never got nervous. Walking into a classroom full of third-graders at Slack Elementary … that will rattle his nerves.
“Nervous was not in my vocabulary,” he said. “Every day I want to do so good. (It) makes me nervous.”
Garcia, known as “Mr. G” to his students, is in his fifth year of teaching and his first year with Lufkin ISD.
“It’s not just teaching. I’m trying to mold human beings,” he said. “I love it. I always wanted to do it.”
His football career and the valuable lessons his parents taught him are what prepared him for the classroom, Garcia said.
“I was a four-year starter (as a football player),” he said. “I was a three-time All-Conference, All-American. I was No. 3 in the nation my senior year. I was the starting punter/kicker for four semi-pro teams. I’ve been part of two conference championship teams and one junior college national championship team.”
Now the members of his audience are bright-eyed third-graders who adore their teacher for his enthusiasm in the classroom. Mr. G’s classroom is a work of art, according to his principal, Danny Whisenant. The classroom’s floor is covered in artificial grass turf, and his jerseys hang on the walls.
What he enjoys the most, though, is instilling into his students the lessons his parents taught him.
“Dad said, ‘(If) you work hard, it’s going to come. If you’re going to do something, be the best’ — including teaching,” Garcia said. “He taught me every sport. The more you can do, the better. He was my first teacher/coach. He taught me to be the man that I am. He was a huge influence. Mom showed us to do for ourselves. She taught us how to cook, wash clothes. I find myself instilling into the kids what I heard my dad say. His words are still in my head. It’s great.”
Garcia graduated from Hearne High School, where he played football and ran track and cross country. He was a walk-on for the football team at Blinn College before transferring to Ottawa University in Kansas. He majored in Education, but left college without a degree. He went back seven years later and graduated, while coaching football at the university. He graduated in a year and started his master’s degree.
He was a paraprofessional for 14 years prior to teaching.
“I have done it all,” he said. “I have worked with students from pre-K all the way to College. I have worked with SPED, ESL, Bilingual, PE, computer class, and I was a para for three years for (the Texas Youth Commission) at a maximum-security juvenile detention center.”
The movie “Stand and Deliver,” a true story about a high school mathematics teacher who inspired students to take the calculus AP exam against all odds, was Garcia’s inspiration.
“That’s the kind of teacher I want to be — a mix of old school and new ideas,” he said.
The final straw that ended Garcia’s football career was a torn meniscus. He later tore his other one.
“The doctor found a bone tumor on my femur and suspected cancer,” he said. “The doctor advised me not to play football anymore. The bone was weak. Thankfully it wasn’t cancer.”
Garcia has been married 16 years to Melissa, a chemist at the Neches River Authority, and they have two black mouth cur dogs, Opie and Harley Black.
Garcia’s advice to anyone wanting to be a teacher: “If you love it, you’ll be good at it. I love working with the kids! It’s the lightbulb moments. You see it: ‘Oh, my, good! We did it!’ They all have it. It’s amazing to me.”
Check out Garcia’s blog, YouTube channel and TikTok:
YouTube channel — https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChz0XmKTwKCSGY53LeE5ARg