#VMThrowback: Original faculty member Matt Arambula looks back on teaching career

Brandon Gamez and Belen Silva


The Magnet Tribune: Lorie Zamarripa (2008)

Social Studies instructor Matt Arambula sits at his desk in 2008.

Brandon Gamez, Staff Writer

Social Studies teacher Matt Arambula III recalls his trip through the years here at VMT which is coming to an end after 36 years of teaching.

Arambula shares his reactions on his transferring to VMT.

“I applied only to find out there were fifteen others who had applied for the position. Through the process of interviews we were eliminated. I think I was surprised when I was chosen as one of the two finalists. That’s where I was really surprised when I was chosen as one of the two finalists. That’s where I was really surprised because there was only one Social Studies position that was open. I remember celebrating that night when I was told I was coming over. I was very first surprised then very happy that I was going to be able to open a new campus and that always had been my dream as a teacher was to open a new campus.”

Brandon Gamez

Arambula also recalls his experiences he encountered the first year when VMT started.

“Oh, this campus started without buildings and so that first year or at least the first semester of that first year, we were teaching under the trees in St. Peter’s plaza or with Mr. David Blumberg. He was doing computers on one side of the boardroom while I was doing social studies on the other side. There were days where we are at the Civic Center ballroom and they had academics all on one side, music on the other side, and art was in the foyer of the auditorium. I had a lot of fond memories because despite all the distractions that were going on kids were still learning. We were surprised how kids were able to tune out what was going on around them, and we all were under one large booming ballroom. I have memories of Mr. Trevino, our namesake, spontaneously popping in on us when we would least expected it. I have a lot of fond memories of that.”

Arambula made comparisons on the past and the present VMT.

“Well, for one thing the size of the student body, we started with something less than 300 that first year. The following year it increased but we never truly went over 500. It was later when the school board started requiring us to add more students. That’s the first difference, the size of the student body. The other thing is that we were a little bit freer to teach how we wanted to teach, like how we get the lesson to the students. Yes, we had state exams to deal with, but they were not completely emphasized as to ‘you have to teach to the exam.’ That’s mainly the biggest difference between then and now.”

Arambula shares his challenges when it comes to teaching secondary Social Studies.

“I would have to say it’s the language barrier. Most students by the time they get to ninth-10th grade they know the language, the English language, but there are a few students that don’t completely feel comfortable with the English language so as a result, struggle. That’s where I find the hardest points to teach.”

Arambula also shares his most important experiences during his teaching career.

“I think the moments in the classroom are my biggest experiences because students are here to learn from me, so I learn from them. It’s not just I disperse and you just sit-there-and-absorb-type of situation I don’t like doing that. I like to take in and learn from my students, too, but some of the best experiences are the lightbulb moments from my students when ‘Oh I get this!’ or ‘Now I understand!.’ The jokes, the funny times in the classroom those are great experiences because usually the first three-four weeks I’m like super serious and I don’t really want to laugh or smile even though some of the things you all say is like ‘Oh my god I got to crack up on this one,’ but I have to hold-it-in-type of situation. Once I get to know you and you get to know me it’s like I relax a little bit more, you relax a little bit more and we kind of sort of grow on each other. Those are the experiences that I really think are the best. It’s the best human experiences, not so much teacher-student it’s like being with people I like.”

Arambula discussed his thoughts on giving up the “manager position” in the Medallion Ceremony.

“Oh, God, that’s going to be a relief. I’ve been doing this since for a while, well, with help not by myself, but it used to be a team, the two of us Mrs. Diana Martinez and I. Mrs. Martinez works at the human resources office here at the main office and we pretty much did everything with the seniors. Then she put in for a transfer to the main office and she was very lucky to get it and that pretty much left me flying high and dry by myself for a couple of years. I’ve had the help from Mr. James Buckley and Mrs. Diana Lopez on occasion. They still sort of help me right now. For the past two years it’s been Silvia Velasco Flores. She pulls one way I’d follow, I pull this way she follows. Giving up the Medallion Ceremony it is like… it’s not hard to put together, it’s just a lot of work to put together. Right now, I am celebrating today because I have finally finished the program for this year’s ceremony. I’ve finally finished it and I was finally able to send it off to Mr. Webber, who makes the program and fixes it, and he has always been there for me a ton as far as this is concerned. Several teachers in the music department are also involved, the art department, they always have been there to help. Giving it up it is somewhat bittersweet. One, this is my last medallion ceremony that I put together, and while its stressful at times I feel that I’m going to miss it. I have to give it up to somebody, somebody else has to step in my place, and somebody else has to do it. I have to move on.

Arambula has been teaching 22 years at VMT, and will miss his students the most.

“My students… I am going to miss being in the classroom. Yes, I got great administration and I have great teacher colleagues. I cannot complain about that I get along with everybody, thank God. What I’m going to miss is being in the classroom with my students.”

He has experienced much in his many years of teaching.

“Well… I have been teaching for 36 years. It’s been quite a ride. I started at Lamar and taught 14 years there. I started as a seventh grade teacher and I ended up teaching eighth grade by the time I left. I was teaching the honor classes and the GT classes and I know that my principal at the time did not want to release me. It took Mr. Trevino’s egging on to tell him, ‘I’m not asking you to release him; I’m telling you to RELEASE him’. That is when I came over here, but for 36 years it has been a wonderful ride. I cannot complain really about it. There have been ups and downs, but if you don’t have ups and downs that’s not life. You cannot have a perfect life. There is no such thing.”