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Congressman Helps Special Teacher Stay in Utah

Congressman Helps Special Teacher Stay in Utah

Posted - Oct. 23, 2003 at 3:25 p.m.



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Sandra Yi ReportingA Utah teacher is back in the classroom this fall after red tape nearly cost him his job.

There are few teachers like Juan Castro, who teaches here at Granite High School. He is a native Spanish speaker and is trained to teach special education kids and 'English as a Second Language'. Administrators call him a premium educator--one they almost lost because of a paperwork mix-up.

Juan Castro is not your average teacher. A native of Chile, he teaches a high school Spanish class, but spends most of the school day with special education kids. He is also endorsed to teach English as a Second Language.

Juan Castro: "I like to work with the students. They are very sensitive in many ways and this is a very important reason for me in working for them."

Administrators call Castro invaluable in a school where nearly 40 percent of its students are minorities and about 15 percent don't speak English.

Steve Hess, Principal, Granite High School: "You have teachers who have content knowledge but the real plus, the real secret, is having one that has the ability to really relate to kids and make a difference in their lives. Not everyone can do that."

Which is why the school is grateful Castro is still here. Last summer he had to return to Chile after a paperwork mistake on his visa renewal application. Getting a new visa could have taken months, but Congressman Jim Matheson cut through red tape to bring Castro back to Utah.

Juan Castro: "It was hard but I’m happy. I forget all of the troubles we had."

This fall Castro is back at Granite High School where administrators say he's making a difference in students' lives.

Juan Castro: "My wife and me, we are happy living here. This is a very special place and the people here are special too."

The school and the district will thank Congressman Jim Matheson for his efforts in this case. He will be honored during a special presentation at the high school next week.

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