By Kyle Naber
In front of a large crowd of future educators, Augustine Romero gave a heartfelt presentation on behalf of the College of Education and Human Sciences (CoEHS) Diversity Forum Series devoted to challenging the students to be educators that welcomes every child with wide open arms.
“How committed are you to being an arms wide open educator?” asked Romero.
This was Romero’s challenge for the hundreds of future educators on hand at the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire. Romero spoke of what it meant to be an educator with arms wide open and how one can become an educator who applies this motto.
Romero has been an educator for the Tuscan Unified School District (TUSD) for the last 15 years. In 2014, Romero took over as principal for Pueblo Magnet High School. He was formerly the multicultural curriculum department director.
Romero associated several words with his arms wide-open theme such as: enthusiastically, warm, and alludes to an embrace.
The presentation was filled with hard-hitting facts about young students. He talked about the disturbing facts of young students. Every eight seconds a high school student drops out, every 17 seconds a child is arrested, and every eight hours a child commits suicide. Romero wanted to break the idea that the issue is where the students come from.
“The trauma and issues that students come with are not their fault,” Romero said. “Don’t sit there and blame them and don’t sit there and feel sorry for them either. Look for real positive action to take.”
Romero’s topic was based off of the band Creed song “With Arms Wide Open” and the song’s lyrics were cited often within the presentation. Romero said that he heard the song in his car and knew immediately that the song would be the focal point of his presentation in Eau Claire
His approach throughout the presentation was evident. He wanted to open the eyes of the students in attendance to have them be able to recognize the need to be open. Talking about at risk student’s he wanted to be clear on the difference between equality and equity.
“Equality is not always equal; sometimes you need equity to give people what they need.” Romero said.
Romero wanted the students in attendance to understand that education is vital to their future student’s lives. Romero went on to say that students that do not graduate are more likely to end up in jail or die.
“When I come hands up I’m asking for something, when I come hands down, I’m ready to give.” Romero said.
Allison Wilmes, a student who attended the presentation said she was impressed with Romero’s presentation.
“Talking about his life experiences was really cool,” Wilmes said.
She said she was excited to her about the multicultural experiences Romero has had, due living in Eau Claire her whole life, which has provided limited experiences.
Eric Torres, an assistant educational studies professor at UW- Eau Claire, explained how Eau Claire was able to bring Romero to campus.
“Normally we have to book him a year ahead of time.” Torres said. “He comes to us thanks to Blugold commitment differential tuition”
Following his presentation, Romero answered personal questions with reporters. Romero was asked what his favorite part is about educating.
“When you see that light go on and you know they got it,” He said. “That’s always a joyous moment. It’s like you see and it’s worth it.”
Overall Romero’s message was simple and clear, he challenged the students to become educators with arms wide open.
Click below to listen to my interview with Dr. Romero following his presentation.