When I was in high school, I didn't know what the achievement gap was. I didn't know that there were privileges unavailable to me due to my family's socioeconomic status, and that those privileges affected my base knowledge and education, which in turn affected my test performance and my awareness of educational and occupational opportunities. I felt that I had everything anyone could want because everyone else around me was in the same boat.
Omar Vasquez was acutely aware of this gap though, and strove to help us overcome it. He not only taught us algebra and calculus, but also the language of exams. He taught us how to prepare and study, how to succeed in academics. But if he only taught me math, I wouldn't be writing this. I wouldn't even remember his name.
Instead, I'm about to donate to his campaign because he taught us all about advocating for ourselves, seizing opportunities, and being good people. He taught us not only how to be successful, but to use that success to raise others up.
- Lauren M.
Thank you for showing me how important education is, in high school, in college, and in the real world. I fell in love with calculus thanks to you and you made a scary subject a little less intimidating. I'm am engineer because of you and I'm a better person because you've kept in touch. I'm excited to see what you do for the students of Seattle. If what you did for countless others in my high school is any indication, then Seattle is lucky to have you!
- Maira G.
Omar Vasquez, or "Vasquez-San" as I called him when he was my teacher in high school, is one of the most level-headed, charismatic and genuine people I know. I hung on to him because I knew then that people like him are hard to find and eleven years later I maintain the same opinion. When I heard the news of Omar retiring his position as an educator to practice law, I was devastated since I feel that he is the epitome of the perfect teacher: passionate, just, ethical and brilliant. To hear now that he will apply his uncanny knack for pragmatic solutions back to the education force really brought a smile to my face.
- Juan Carlos L.
I hated math and had the fixed mindset that I was just always one of those kids who simply "were not good at math." However, every day I was in Mr. Vasquez's class he made me feel like I was good at SOMETHING. I walked into class looking forward to it, even anticipating staying after school because here was this teacher who was so positive, always smiling, making me feel like I was doing something right. Even if just a smile, it was something I looked forward to. #greatteachersmakegreatteachers
- Deja E.
Where to even begin; Mr. Vasquez went above and beyond to not just be a teacher but an excellent teacher, which made me try to not just be a math student but an excellent student. Calculus was definitely a very intimidating math class but he made it his job and mission to have all of us truly understand the subject, even if it meant singing a math equation. Mr. Vasquez was not just a great teacher but a wonderful mentor and friend. His words of encouragement and positivity still resonate even after almost 10 years of being in his calculus class.
- Karla Z.
Omar Vasquez's algebra class is memorable and beneficial to me, almost entirely because of how passionate Mr. Vasquez was about the subject. Walking into his classroom as a high school junior still hating math after a lackluster year in geometry I was more than prepared to resist both my new teacher and the subject he represented. I had a bad attitude and was most certainly not an easy student to teach; if not an outright hindrance to his classroom in general. But, he persevered and taught passionately a subject that he cared about and understood. Against my best efforts I learned algebra II, and not only did I learn I retained knowledge. Knowledge which helped me to pass the necessary prerequisite math classes I took in my freshman and sophomore years of college which helped my earn my associates degrees and set me on the path to finishing my B.A. in history.
- Clayton G.
Thanks for showing me that the world is larger than Avondale, Arizona. In 2008, you encouraged me to participate in the LEAD Summer Program at Georgia Tech. At the time, my family did not have the money, but you encouraged me to seek every opportunity for scholarship, and ultimately guided me into my acceptance in the program. That opportunity opened up endless possibilities in the STEM fields. Years later, I have a BS in Civil Engineering from Arizona State, and will become a licensed Civil Engineer in 12 months. Without your guidance, I would not be here!
- Stevie M.
Mr. Vasquez gave me the confidence to be true to myself, and nurtured my love of reading and mathematics. I would be a different man today if it was [not] for his mentoring, thank you for being a teacher [and] a friend!
- Joel G.
Mr. Vasquez truly inspired. He made me think outside of box. Thanks to him, I completely changed my outlook on the world and all its possibilities. He always showed me how to look at any problem from another vantage point whether it pertained to mathematics or not. I definitely took and learned a lot from having you as my teacher Mr. Vasquez!
- Ashley R.
I struggled in math for years mainly because I never had a good teacher. I was always a straight A student and did well buy when it came to math I was behind my peers significantly. Until I took math with Mr. Vasquez. He was always there to answer my questions and was patient when I didn't get it. I [learned] to enjoy math instead of despise it. Thank you for all of your dedication and hard work.
- Amanda B.