Every month, ABC10 works with Schools Financial Credit Union to honor a teacher — someone who is making a difference in our community and in the lives of our children.
We look for someone who goes above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to teaching our kids.
Here, we introduce you to Tim Lechuga, he’s the Education Specialist at Bernard Hughes Elementary in Modesto and ABC10’s May Teacher of the Month.
Lechuga has the kind of hands-on, energetic learning that is contagious! But his students just call him, Teacher Tim. There is a team of teachers in his classroom — specializing in education for children who have autism and Teacher Tim says they couldn't do it without music.
Before he became a teacher in 2001, Teacher Tim owned a restaurant and, as you might have guessed by all of the music in the classroom, he was also a musician.
With this kind of passion, you would have thought teaching was always on his radar but he says it was kind of an accident.
“I had children and I just became a parent volunteer in my children's classrooms,” Lechuga said. “I think everybody finds their niche and this was mine."
And it's not just the students who leave the classroom knowing and smiling more. The other teachers and student volunteers who work with him say everyone he works with benefits.
Tyrone Rush, a paraeducator in the classroom with Teacher Tim, said he's engaging with the students.
"He's very knowledgeable with his job,” Rush said. “He makes it easy to come to work."
Autumn Bradley, who nominated Lechuga for the award says that he teaches the kids and adults in the classroom, he goes outside and plays with the kids and takes music with him everywhere he goes.
"I like how he's active and he works with the kids a lot," Eric Amerel, a student volunteer in the classroom, said.
Natalie Camarena, another student volunteer, said Teacher Tim is, “so energetic with the kids.”
"He's very kind to them,” Camarena said. “He knows how to work with them and everything."
So where does Teacher Tim get the energy and the patience?
"I was this tall once myself and I kind of remember my experiences as a kindergarten student,” Lechuga said. “Putting myself in my students' place helps me to empathize with my student's position and be patient."
He added that it's important to stay centered outside of work and then bring that serenity into the classroom. And if you spend five minutes in his classroom, it’s easy to see why he’s our Teacher of the Month.