The best, in any language

Miss Claudina Garcia Villalobos is only in her first year as the Arcadia High School and Ingleside Middle School French teacher, but she has already made an immeasurable impact on her young students.

“Nominating Miss Garcia for the Arcadia News teacher award was all Trevor’s idea,” said his mother Linda Tinsley. “We had spoken briefly in the past about other teachers he might like to nominate but then he’d never bring it up again. This time he got online and did it, writing a letter all on his own.”

In his nomination letter, eighth-grade Ingleside Middle School student, Trevor Tinsley, explained, “Miss Garcia is an amazing teacher and she is very passionate about teaching. She explains things extremely well, and makes learning French fun.”

The award presentation, led by Trevor in connection with Arcadia News staff, was a complete surprise to Miss Garcia

“I was so surprised, I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t think,” said Garcia. “I am so thankful for all the kindness.”

Miss Garcia earned a master’s degree in French linguistics at ASU in the spring of 2015. Her journey to Ingleside Middle School has been anything but ordinary.

Garcia was born in Mexico. At 15 she worked in an English immersion school and cultivated a love of foreign languages.

During high school, Garcia began taking French classes in the afternoons and evenings. After graduation, she took off on a European adventure, traveling to France and Italy to gather firsthand knowledge of the cultures.

After one year in Europe, Garcia decided to direct her travels to the United States. Her passion for cooking, paired with her love of French culture and cuisine, pointed her in the direction of culinary school.

Eight years ago, Garcia moved to Phoenix to begin her undergrad degree in culinary arts at Scottsdale College.

“I always loved to cook,” said Garcia. “But once in school, I just couldn’t see myself spending all that time in the kitchen.”

The decision came easy.

“I always saw myself working with languages. Transitioning to a degree in French made sense to me.”

Garcia credits her parents for developing an interest within her for foreign languages and cultures.

“I was really nervous to teach,” said Garcia. “But I love sharing my experiences with the kids and I love seeing their progress.”

Garcia explains that with French, it’s a process. The students improve slowly but surely and the most rewarding thing is seeing how much effort they put into it each day.

“In five years, I hope to be teaching at Arcadia and Ingleside and hopefully expand the program to multiple levels,” said Garcia. “High school was the best part of my life and I had great relationships with my teachers. I love that now I get to recreate that.”