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Thursday, June 13, 2024
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The Unforgettable Invitation

A Teacher's Honor

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Manny Saenz. Photo by Roberto Hugo González
Manny Saenz. Photo by Roberto Hugo González
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By Roberto Hugo González

In a heartwarming turn of events, Manny Saenz, a dedicated teacher at Edinburg North High School, experienced a profound moment of recognition and gratitude that transcended his 30-year teaching career. One of his students, Victoria Diosdado, a senior preparing to graduate, extended a deeply personal invitation that would change the course of his professional life.

The student, unable to have her parents present as they reside in Mexico, chose Manny to represent her family at the prestigious Top 10% Honors banquet. Touched by her gesture, Manny shared his emotional response on Facebook:

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“One of my students asked me today if I’d be her guest at the Top 10% Honors banquet. This has never happened before. I asked her, ‘Are you sure? Wouldn’t you rather have a family member be your guest?’ She said, ‘Sir, all of my family lives in Mexico. You are not only my favorite teacher, but you’re a father figure to me. My parents would want you there.'”

“How could I say no? So, for the first time in my 30-year career, I’ll attend a top 10% banquet not as a teacher but as a guest of one of our scholars. I won’t forget this.”

Manny’s post quickly received attention and praise from colleagues, students, and friends, who recognized the significance of this honor. The invitation demonstrated his teaching and the deep, personal connections he fostered with his students over the years.

Reflecting on the invitation, Manny expressed his profound appreciation: “I’ll often share little pictures or events on social media, but I rarely post something purely text based. This moment felt different. It was very touching and a huge honor. In all my years of teaching, she’s the first student to ask me to be part of such a personal milestone. She told me, ‘You’re like a father figure.’ It was a very touching moment.”

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The banquet, scheduled for Wednesday at 11:00 AM, was set to be a defining moment in Manny’s career. “I’ve been honored by my peers before,” Manny shared. “In 2018, I was Teacher of the Year here at the school, which was a significant achievement. But this invitation stands on its own because of the personal story behind it. It reaffirms why I love this school and feel fortunate to work here.”

Manny’s journey as an educator is marked by a passion for his students and a commitment to their success. Outside the classroom, he is a musician with The Ticking Clocks and a former National Director at Mustang Club of America. His educational background includes studies at San Isidro High School, Studio Art at the University of Texas-Pan American, and Art at Texas A&I University.

Despite the accolades and opportunities that have come his way, Manny’s heart remains firmly rooted at Edinburg North High School. “I’ve always felt like I could work anywhere if I wanted to,” Manny reflected. “But this is where I want to be. My heart is here.”

The anticipation and excitement were palpable as Manny prepared for the upcoming banquet. This moment was more than just an event; it was a celebration of a teacher’s profound impact on a student’s life. 

Manny Saenz was filled with anticipation and pride as the day of the Top 10% Honors banquet approached. The invitation to attend as a guest, representing the parents of one of his top students, Victoria Diosdado, was an honor and proof of the lasting relationships he had built with his students over the years.

Victoria, the senior who extended the heartfelt invitation to Manny, is an exemplary Edinburg North High School student. Her academic achievements have placed her in the top 10% of her class, a distinction that comes with rigorous coursework and dedication.

“Victoria is an outstanding student,” Manny explained. “While I don’t have her exact schedule in front of me, to be in the top 10%, she’s likely enrolled in some of the most challenging courses we offer. This includes dual enrollment classes through South Texas College and advanced placement (AP) courses in subjects like physics, calculus, and English. These courses demand a high level of commitment and academic excellence.”

Victoria’s academic journey is about more than just excelling in high school. Manny highlighted the unique opportunities available to Edinburg North High School students like her. “Most of the top 10% of students here are early college students. We recently had 42 seniors graduate from South Texas College about three and a half weeks before they graduated from Edinburg North High School. This achievement is remarkable.”

For many, the transition from high school to college is a significant leap, but students like Victoria are stepping onto college campuses with a considerable head start. “When we graduated high school, we started college with zero credits,” Manny said, reflecting on his educational journey. “These students are stepping onto their chosen college campuses as sophomores or juniors, with 60 college credits already under their belts. This springboard prepares them academically and significantly reduces the financial burden and time required to complete their degrees.”

The banquet, to be held on a bright Wednesday morning, celebrates the dedication and hard work of the top 10% of students. For Manny, attending as Victoria’s guest was an important reminder of his impact as an educator. As he said, the room will be filled with proud parents, teachers, and students, all gathered to honor the academic excellence of the school’s brightest stars.

Manny will attend the event as Victoria’s teacher and surrogate parent. “To be chosen by Victoria for this role is incredibly touching,” Manny shared. “It’s proof of the bonds we create with our students beyond the classroom. This moment is as significant as any professional accolade I’ve received, if not more.”

“I’m incredibly proud of Victoria and all my students. Their achievements reflect their hard work and the support they receive from their families and teachers. This event reminded me why I love what I do and remain committed to this school,” Manny finalized.

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