MAGIC VALLEY — Jorge Pulleiro grew up in Argentina and became a teacher at the age of 18, just one year after graduating high school.
At the age of 24, he was accepted to Brigham Young University and moved from Buenos Aires to Utah.
In the last year, he was not only named as Idaho's 2021 teacher of the year but was also named on Carnegie Corporation of New York's Great Immigrants, Great American's list, a list honoring immigrants and their contributions.
“Growing up in a third-world country, I didn’t have much hope, and now I’m right here because I kept going," Pulleiro said.
Pulliero faced bullying issues when he was in grade school, and says even some of his teachers added to the problem. But it was his third-grade teacher that changed his life and made him want to become a teacher.
“She changed my life because at the age of eight I already knew that somehow I was going to be found in a classroom teaching," Pulleiro said.
Which he did. Pulleiro started teaching Spanish at Wood River Middle School eight years ago. Before that, he was teaching in Oregon. But this year was his last year of teaching. He is now the new Vice Principal at Twin Falls High School.
He hopes to have inspired his students as much as his third-grade teacher inspired him.
“I love my students, and because one teacher loved me so much that changed my life. We need to love our students," Pulleiro said.
Some of his former students say he was that teacher for them, and they looked forward to his class every day.
“I mean he’s an amazing teacher, and you would expect that from him. He’s just incredible. The way he teaches and the way he has connections with his students. It’s amazing," Kimberlynn Sanchez, Pulleiro's former student, said.
“I always felt like he was very open and made sure everyone knew that they could always go and talk to him if they were having trouble," said Brett Poggi, Pulleiro's former student.
This past year was Pulleiro's last year of teaching, but he says saying goodbye was the hardest part.
“It was my last day in eighth grade and the last time I’m probably going to be in class with him, it was very fun but also exciting and sad because well I’m now leaving middle school and I’m going to miss him a lot," Sanchez said.
During the last day, one student told Pulleiro how much he looked forward to his class every day because he knew it was a safe place where he wouldn't get bullied.
“Sometimes you wonder is it worth it? All the sacrifice, all the time. Is it worth it? And this was the answer," Pulleiro said.
Pulleiro was one of just 33 other people from around the world recognized on this list.
"That’s what I love about teaching that my students are there and they don’t know this but they are teaching me more than what I could teach them,” Pulleiro said.