Americas High School teacher who was nominated by a student wins national award


EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – An Americas High School teacher received national recognition for her outstanding leadership and dedication to her students.

For the past 11 years, Irene Gardea has led the Americas High School Speech and Debate Team through multiple regional, state, and national tournaments.

Irene Garcia

Americas High School is the only school in El Paso to have had a National Student of the Year and is now the only and first school in El Paso to have a National Coach of the Year.

Gardea won District Coach of the Year in 2019 and says she never thought she had it in her to be the National Coach of the Year.

“So we’ve had a really great year but I always assumed that the coaches that were like the top of the top… and knowing me I have never seen myself that way… so it was a huge surprise, ” said Gardea.

According to one of her students, Gardea teaches her students to build confidence and drive to become leaders.

That student, Caitlyn Acevedo, wanted to repay the lessons she learned from Ms. Gardea and submitted a nomination letter for the National Coach of the Year Award.

“I joined speech and debate with fear in my heart because I didn’t know how it was gonna go, but with Ms. Gardea’s guidance and support I was able to succeed in debate, and I really do think that she deserves to be the high school coach of the year because she does so much for the entire campus,” said Acevedo.

“She is a reminder of persisting and learning to appreciate the journey. Ms. Gardea once told me, “Everything you will ever need, you already have.” It is because of her that I know I will forever be equipped for whatever life throws at me, and I am forever thankful for the guidance and support she offers.”

Caitlyn Acevedo said in the nomination letter.

The national speech and debate tournament will be held virtually for the first time ever this year, and Gardea says she is looking forward to bringing home the national championship.

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