Catholic Faith, Passion for Education Have Led Alejandro Flores '11 to Live His Vocation
An Educator at Heart, Alejandro Flores '11 Seeks to Inspire and Motivate Younger Generations To Follow Their True Calling
By Jorge Jones
Inspired by his Catholic faith and the constant yearning to serve as a role model for students, Alejandro Flores ‘11 lives his vocation as an educator seeking to inspire and guide the next generation of leaders. Flores, who serves as Spanish teacher at St. Anthony Catholic High School, graduated from the University of the Incarnate Word in 2011 with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Spanish.
As a Spanish educator at one of the seven institutions under UIW’s Brainpower Connection, Flores not only teaches Spanish, but he also serves in a variety of different roles in the Catholic high school founded in 1905. In addition to teaching, he is the choir director, bowling coach, photographer and class sponsor - all of which encompass his vocation of serving and teaching younger generations.
He loves each role, but his heart is in his craft as a Spanish teacher. Flores covers the basics needed in any language: vocabulary, grammar, comprehension, composition and syntax. After the technical portion is covered, Flores involves students in a diverse array of cultural projects and games, allowing students to immerse themselves in the culture.
“Each year, students look forward to playing loteria or putting together a Dia de los Muertos unit,” he said. “All my classes contribute to making a community ofrenda through the different projects I have designed in my class. I search for opportunities to display student work throughout the community and through the partnership of Centro Cultural Aztlan, a local non-profit organization.”
Through the realization of cultural projects, Flores and his students are committed to preserving, developing and promoting the Chicano/Latino art culture of the city of San Antonio. These projects leave lasting impressions on what Flores says are “the extra rewards you receive as an educator.”
Prior to becoming the impactful and passionate educator he is today, different role models throughout his own academic journey influenced Flores’ method of teaching, allowing him to facilitate and inspire the next generation of students.
“My experience from graduating from both St. Anthony and UIW helped me view my professors, instructors, and coaches as positive role models,” he said. “It was through their example of proactive educators that inspired me to provide my students with the understanding, patience, empathy and scholarly expectations to provide to the next generation of society.”
For Flores, influential role models were not limited to the classroom. Throughout his time at UIW, he was heavily involved with UIW Mission and Ministry. Compassionate and faithful individuals such as Sr. Walter, CCVI, Beth Villareal, Rev. Trevor Alexander, Lena Gokelman, Sr. Martha Ann Kirk and the late Chaplin, Father Phillip, contributed to the growth of his Catholic faith. Their love, support and generosity inspired him to explore his beliefs in various prayerful experiences.
“My mission and ministry peers played a huge role in keeping my faith ignited during my college years and left me the everlasting impression to reflect who I would become as a student, son, future husband and educator,” he said.
Flores, who was recognized as a 2021 Educator of the Year by the Archdiocese of San Antonio, emphasizes the importance of following one’s true calling. Regardless of the major or career path one chooses, it should be lived as a vocation, similar to how the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word followed their calling when responding to a rapidly spreading cholera epidemic in 1869.
The sense of a global community is another fond memory Flores has of UIW. At the beginning of each semester, he looked forward to meet new classmates from different corners of the world.
“Each semester brought forth new courses, professors, but it was the opportunity to meet new classmates from around the world because of the global community that is UIW,” he said. “With everyone I met, I admired the background, hard work, and sacrifices it took everyone to become a Cardinal.”
For students wanting to follow the footsteps of educators like Flores, the experience will come with many challenges. However, the profession can also be rewarding in numerous ways. It is through preparing lesson plans, seeing students understand concepts, and the consistency of being present in the classroom that Flores experiences the fruits of his life’s work.
“We all started as students and it would not be possible to be where we are at without teachers,” he said. “You, too, can create a legacy, just as those memories of your favorite teacher remain with you. Your efforts, words and actions will be put into something bigger that is beyond academics and provides students with important tools for life.”