SACRAMENTO — One of the Coachella Valley’s most beloved — and honored — educators has been recognized, again. On Monday, teacher and nationally acclaimed education champion, Chauncey Veatch was recognized at the 2018 Latino Spirit Awards.
He was presented with the inaugural “Friend of the Latino Community” award. Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, put in a request for the creation of this special award category to honor Veatch’s extensive accomplishments and lifelong service.
Veatch is a U.S. Army veteran, school teacher, and Latino community champion. Inspired by Cesar Chavez, in 1968 Veatch worked as a United Farm Workers volunteer registering voters. After duty in the U.S. Army, Veatch sought to continue his service by entering the teaching profession.
Veatch gravitated to Coachella Valley Unified School District (CVUSD) because of the large migrant farmworker community. He asked for classes filled with non-English speakers, students with special needs, pregnant teens, as well as students involved with gangs or drugs.
“Where most would see an underserved area with a challenging educational environment and troubled, hard to reach students, Chauncey Veatch saw gifts, talent, as well as a beautiful, vibrant culture and values system,” Garcia said in a prepared statement. “Chauncey truly believed in his students and their ability to achieve without limitation. He encouraged them to dream, aspire higher and set both educational and career goals.
“I am fully convinced that the positive trajectory the Eastern Coachella Valley has seen over the past few decades is due in part to Mr. Veatch’s remarkable method of leadership development that has taken root over generations of students.”
In 2002, out of more than three million candidates, Veatch was named National Teacher of the Year and was honored at a White House ceremony. Following this prestigious achievement, Veatch could not be kept away from the classroom, and he remained committed to teaching students in the Eastern Coachella Valley.
“My teaching system is driven by celebrating the students and what they bring as individuals; identifying and building upon the gifts they bring inside and outside the classroom. Now, look what they’ve done. Look what they have accomplished,” said Veatch, beaming with pride in his former students, a majority of whom have gone on to pursue teaching careers of their own. “They are already making a difference in the world. They are living a legacy.”
Veatch considers himself uniquely blessed to have been able to teach the whole continuum of educational levels, from pre-K to adult education, from special education to U.S citizenship classes.
Every year, the California Legislative Latino Caucus honors Latinos/as in a variety of categories that range from athletics to public service and human rights. This year, Garcia entreated Sen. Ben Hueso, Chair of the Latino Caucus to expand the award categories to include the new “Friend of the Latino Community” specifically to honor outstanding individuals such as Veatch, whose work has profoundly impacted Latino communities.
In addition to Veatch, other honorees included: tattoo artist Kat Von D, former MTV News and current E! News host Liz Hernández, musical talent Cheech Marin, domestic violence survivor and now Certified Domestic Violence Advocate Melinda M. Cuellar, cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz and Hector Barajas-Varela, formerly deported Army veteran who has headlined the news recently after being granted U.S. citizenship.
The Latino Spirit Awards were established in 2002 at the State Capitol in Sacramento to coincide with our state’s acknowledgment of Cinco de Mayo and to highlight positive role models in our community.
Garcia represents the 56th district, which comprises the cities and communities of Blythe, Brawley, Bermuda Dunes, Calexico, Calipatria, Cathedral City, Coachella, Desert Hot Springs, El Centro, Holtville, Imperial, Indio, Mecca, Oasis, North Shore, Salton Sea, Thermal, Thousand Palms, and Westmorland.