MAGIC VALLEY — From being named Idaho 2021 teacher of the year to being honored by President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, Jorge Pulleiro says he hopes his journey inspires others to keep going.
Pulleiro grew up in Argentina and became a teacher at 18 years old, just one year after graduating high school.
At 24 years old, he was accepted to Brigham Young University and moved from Buenos Aires to Utah.
When Pulleiro was named Idaho's teacher of the year, he was informed there was a chance he would be traveling to the White House to meet the first lady; but it was uncertain because of COVID-19 restrictions. Last week, Pulleiro, along with other 2021 teachers of the year throughout the nation, were able to travel to Washington D.C. to be honored by the First Lady.
“Regardless of whatever your political party is that you agree with, we’re talking about the president and the First Lady of the United States. I was completely-I don’t know how to say it, but many memories came back to me," Pulleiro said.
Some of those memories include his journey to the U.S. Jorge came to this country 25 years ago and says looking back at his journey makes him grateful to have been honored by the president.
“And so all of that came to me when we were sitting at the garden event, and I said wow, and I’m going to get emotional, but everything that I went through, whether it was challenging, bad or good, was worth it. Everything was worth it," Pulleiro said.
During the event, Pulleiro says he also thought about his mother and all the hard work she did that motivated him to keep going.
“My father died when I was four, she never remarried. She went out to work 7 to 7 Monday through Saturday and sacrificed so much for me so that I would be educated so that I would go to my English classes," Pulleiro said.
The event was hosted by First Lady Jill Biden, so attendees were caught by surprise when she announced President Biden was there to speak with them.
“He was very personable. After he finished his speech, we had an amazing group photo. Then he stayed there to talk to us to take some selfies and videos. Very, very personable president," Pulleiro said.
Pulleiro says he hopes his journey inspires his students and other immigrants.
“Whatever you do, do it with passion, love, and consistency, and you will reach the goal that you want to reach. It can be done. In Spanish we say si se puede. To my latino community: sí se puede," Pulleiro said.