CASA GRANDE — Villago Middle School sixth grade math teacher Daniel Garcia may have been surprised to find he was the winner of an Esperanza Latino Teacher of the Year Award Wednesday morning, but his family and coworkers weren’t.

Garcia is one of four teachers in the state who received the award from Chicanos Por La Causa, said Cathy Keppel, a representative from CPLC. The organization provides health, housing, education and small business services to Latino communities in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas.

Teachers are nominated for the award by their principal, Keppel said. The winners receive up to $5,000 for their classroom and the winner’s school receives $2,500.

“This is well deserved,” said Villago Principal Jeff Lavender. “He never seeks recognition. He deserves the spotlight.”

Garcia served as a vice principal and a principal before returning to the classroom a few years ago, Lavender said. He also volunteers heavily at his church.

“He loves his work and loves every one of you,” Casa Grande Elementary School District Superintendent JoEtta Gonzales told Garcia’s students. “He’s an exceptional teacher and this is well deserved.”

Garcia, along with the other three award winners, will be honored by CPLC with a dinner at Arizona State University’s Gammage Auditorium on Oct. 23.

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