Garascia Wins Prestigious Milken Award


Madison Puckett, Sophomore Editor

On April 29, 2022 PAWS teacher Mr. Mark Garascia became one of two teachers in the state of Missouri to win the prestigious Milken Educator Award. 

The Milken Educator Award was initially brought to life by the Milken Family Foundation. The founders had the original plan to help out the less fortunate using their gifts, however, the founders soon realized how important it was to have effective educators teaching today’s youth, and how important education is for individuals and their communities in the long run. This led to not only the Milken Educator Award but other initiatives that they have continued for the past 3-decades.

Receiving an award like this does not come easy, but with the right motivators and determination, anything is possible. 

“My motivation is knowing that short term sacrifices will greatly outweigh the gains that both I and the students will get from this job, as an adult, I can see things that will happen for the students in the future that they can’t see for themselves, I wish I would have had a teacher like that in high school and college,” Garascia said.

When you look at great teachers, you can normally tell one thing, they genuinely like their job. Mr. Garascia has known that he wanted to be a teacher since the end of college, and that remains true to this day.  

“I took a career decision-making course at SLU, we took the Meyer Briggs test where it gives you detailed results on what you should do based on your personality type,” Garascia said “Mine said that I would be a good educator. I did some things like Junior Achievement in HS, so I changed my major based on that.” 

Being genuine and building relationships with his students are two things that Mr.Garascia always makes sure to do in his classroom, and believes they are the key to being a good teacher in the classroom.

“The way I operate works for me because it’s who I am, but if someone tried to replicate me it wouldn’t work because it isn’t them,” Garascia said.  “One thing I heard is that I talk to students differently than other teachers do. That comes with love and respect, I like to treat people the way I want to be treated. Having mutual respect shows that they can trust me.”

Mr. Garascia can still remember all of the lives he has impacted, the smiles and success he has been able to witness make everything worth it.

“My favorite part of Friday was seeing how genuinely excited the soccer girls were for me. It’s a moment I will never forget,” Garascia said. “The first time I attended graduation at HHS, when I saw some of my students who didn’t think they would graduate, to see their true appreciation of what they accomplished and our experiences together, that time made all the tough times not so tough in comparison.”

If there is one thing you can say about Mr. Garascia, it is his determination and commitment to his students that got him here today, which is obvious to both his students and other faculty members.

“I would tell Me G to continue the relentless forward progression as he continues his work,” Dr. Shelly Vogler said.

You should have seen the smiles on the girl’s soccer team’s faces when they found out their coach won the award. This is especially true for senior Isabella Fujarte, who finally gets to cheer Mr. Garascia on after all the times he has done it for her.

“Garascia vouches for me all the time, he knows I can do whatever I put my mind to,” Fujarte said. “If I do anything good or bad, you can see him on the sideline cheering me on. If I could tell him anything in regards to him winning this reward, it would be ‘I told you so.’ He always tells me that when I prove myself wrong or do something I know I can do. He truly deserves this award and I’m so proud of him. He is a great educator and coach, and will always be my favorite!” 

Now what everybody has been wondering since the assembly on Friday, what is Mr. Garascia going to do with 25,000 dollars? 

“Once I get it, I plan to put some towards my daughter’s educational fund, And like a lot of people around here know, I bowl a lot, so maybe some new bowling balls and some new stuff for my pool,” Garascia said.  “And I also plan on treating my family to a nice dinner.”