Tucson-made documentary looks at teacher struggles in AZ

Updated: May. 7, 2019 at 5:12 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - The bell rings at Flowing Wells High School for Nathaniel Rios’ 4th period AP U.S. History class.

"Don't be tardy, have a seat, let's go," he exclaimed as kids took their seats.

It’s crunch time with only two days until the big test for college credit. It is Rios’ job to make sure they are prepared.

"I feel like I have a legacy," he said.

He’s been at Flowing Wells High School for 12 years and teaches the most challenging classes of U.S. Government and History offered, yet he faces challenges of his own.

teacher 2 (Source: KOLD News 13)
teacher 2 (Source: KOLD News 13)

“With three kids at home, to be responsible I have to look at that every year and say is teaching a sustainable part of my life and of my family’s life?” asked Rios.

But if something doesn't change, Rios - like many other teachers - is afraid he won't be able to affordably call his school halls home much longer.

That narrative is one every Arizona teacher knows well.

One a locally made film hopes to change.

‘Teaching in Arizona’ take a look inside Tucson teachers’ classrooms - including Rios'.

The movie began production in January of 2018 and continued through the Red for Ed movement. It aims to spark conversation about better education.

Red for Ed sparked change in the state a year ago and got teachers more money in their paychecks by 2020.

"We're really hopeful that that comes to fruition," said Katie Rogerson, Chief Operating Officer of Tucson Values Teachers. "But there is still so much more that needs to be done."

One of those things: more money to benefit students.

"I don't have the ability to take kids to city hall and do field trips like I want to," Rios said.

It shows teachers' struggles.

Rios scoops ice cream on the weekend for extra cash for his family, and so he can continue to do what he loves.

Back in his classroom, kids write in crayons and markers to compare time periods of our past, an interactive way to help kids remember history.

But Rios' students may be witnessing it in the making.

"10, 20, 30 years from now if I'm lucky enough to still be teaching," explained Rios. "I will be able to help students understand where they fit."

Tucson Values Teachers funded the short documentary.

They've held screenings around the state since the beginning of April.

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, they've opened a link to the public to watch from anywhere until May 12.

You can watch it here:

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