You are the light

Mike Vargas Uncategorized

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As the 1st semester draws to a close, I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on why it is we do what we do day in and day out.

With so much negative media out there its hard to lose sight of what we as educational professionals really are, and that is the keepers of our countries democracy, the pillars of decency, an example of how to behave and conduct ourselves in society. I know that sounds lofty and boisterous- but it is without question the truth.

It takes an educated population to be able to function and create a society worth living in. Our kids need us today now more than ever, as we are some of the only champions they have left.

As I am watching the nightly news I am horrified at the stories that are being broadcast. How do you explain to your 5 years old girl what sexual assault is? How do you explain to your kids that it’s not ok to lie, yet all they see on TV is how people who are supposed to be our leaders lying? (like every day)

How do you explain fake news? What is real news? What is the difference??

I tried to explain fake news last week and I failed at it miserably. I guess the fundamental question is, what are the truths we should allow our kids to buy into. I have friends that think Briebart is the only true media outlet, and have started teaching their kids that mainstream media is false. Is this cycle of nonsense ever going to stop?  As for me, I find myself turning off the news at night more and more, because I don’t want what is taking place to further effect my children. It is some tough times we are living in, and now more than ever that moral compass is being manipulated by ever increasing magnetic fields.

As I tell my students, don’t believe it unless you can find 3 credible sources. And if a university puts its name behind it, then its probably most definitely accurate.

As I continue down this journey as an educational professional, I am bound to teach my kids the life skills of inquiry and questioning that come from scientific reasoning. I do this not just because some really great teachers did it for me, but because I really believe we are getting to a point where I understand that I am the only science exposure these kids will ever have after leaving my classroom. In many cases, I will be their only point of contact in science. With that precious time, I need them to learn how to think, how to make decisions, and how to see the value in science and technology as it affects their lives. Why is it important that the person in charge of the EPA have a science background? Why does this matter to them? What challenges will they face as we continue down this backward digression of modern thought?  Increasingly our jobs are less about content, and more about life skills like how to make smart decisions. How to function in our society.

My point for this piece is this: It’s up to us as teachers to be the moral compass for our students. It’s up to us to build the better world that we envision by teaching lifelong skills. Its up to us to be the example of good.

As we sit around the table with friends and family this holiday season, I have no doubt the question we loath will get asked and comments about our profession will be made. Such as “It must be nice to get summers off “, or “must be nice to play with glitter and glue every day”, but when these opportunities arise, make it abundantly clear that we are the people who will teach your children how to be citizens of this great country, and we are the ones that forge the moral compass of our nation’s youth. You, my friends, are the light. The beacon of hope and you are needed now more than ever.


My name is Mike Vargas. I am a proud recipient of the 2014 ASTA Arizona HS Science Teacher of the Year award and I am a 2016 AEF Arizona Teacher of the Year Ambassador for Excellence. I earned my undergraduate degree from Northern Arizona University where I was Vice – President of the Associated Students, a recipient of the Gold Axe, and President’s Prize awards. I am an advocate for physics first instruction and I am leading a movement to double the current number of physics teachers in Arizona in the next 5 years. I teach high school physics at Pinnacle High School in the Paradise Valley Unified School District.

Comments 1

  1. Melissa Girmscheid

    This isn’t political, it’s doing what’s best for our students. We have to teach them to think for themselves and judge sources on merit. I agree, the wonderful educators who I am proud to call my colleagues are the light in all this darkness.

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