A teacher at Wood River Middle School has been named Idaho Teacher of the Year, state Superintendent Sherri Ybarra announced Tuesday.
Jorge Pulleiro, who teaches Spanish in the world languages department, was chosen from 170 nominees across Idaho, Ybarra said. One teacher is selected each year by a state committee.
Pulleiro, a native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, has taught at the middle school since 2012. He is the founder of the WRMS exchange program with Gredos de San Diego Schools in Madrid, Spain, in which students from Blaine County and students from Spain travel to study at each others’ schools for three or four weeks each year.
In 2018, a group of WRMS students participating in the program had the opportunity to meet and speak with Spain’s King Felipe VI at his home in Madrid.
“Jorge never does anything like everybody else,” Blaine County School District Superintendent GwenCarol Holmes said in a ceremony at the middle school Tuesday morning. “Who else takes their kids to meet the king of Spain?”
Pulleiro teared up as he accepted the award, thanking his family—particularly his mother, wife and daughter, who also works as a teacher at WRMS—for their support.
“I wish my colleagues were here, because this award belongs to each one of my colleagues at Wood River Middle School,” Pulleiro said. “This shouldn’t be a competition. We are here together, and we are here for our students.”
His motivation for teaching, Pulleiro said, stems from his own experiences in school growing up. He was bullied “so much” as a student, he said, but his third-grade teacher was there for him in a way no other students or teachers were.
“I needed her so much,” he said. “She recognized that I was important and that I had a future, and she believed in me. I will never forget my third-grade teacher. It was because of her that I decided to teach.”
Beyond teaching, Pulleiro is a “strong advocate” for encouraging active participation of the Latino community in the Blaine County School District, according to a statement from the district. He serves on the Latino Staff Advisory Committee and has been involved in planning the Conferencia Educativa Para Padres, a conference for the district’s Spanish-speaking parents.
Pulleiro has a B.A. in Spanish translation and interpretation from Brigham Young University, a master’s degree in teacher education from Eastern Oregon University and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Boise State University. He served in the Army for six years and taught Spanish in Oregon before coming to Blaine County.
As Idaho Teacher of the Year, he will talk with other teachers, legislators and policymakers across the state, meet with Teachers of the Year from other states and serve as Idaho’s nominee for National Teacher of the Year.