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Jeffco Hero Awards: Amos Baca

Jeffco Hero Awards: Amos Baca
Posted on 11/30/2018
Deane Elementary instructional tutor Amos Baca reacts as his students play a game of line soccer on the school’s turf field.There are few places that Amos Baca would rather be, than on Deane Elementary's turf field, encouraging his students in a spirited game of line soccer. One thing you need to know right at the start: there’s no mister or coach in front of his name.

“Kids see me and just say Baca, it's perfectly fine with me. It's kind of what makes us connect just a little bit," he said.

That connection is clear.

"He is outside every morning with me high fiving kids, making them feel welcome,” said Principal Mindi Feir. “[He] has a nickname for every kid. He knows every student by name. He truly goes above and beyond for kids. He really is a huge part of why Deane's school climate and culture is the way it is."

"Even if he's in a hurry, he'll still take the time to high five the kids that want to high five him. Kids can actually count on him," added student Kamila Marquez.

"It's always been a dream of mine just to work in this kind of environment with kids,” said Baca. “They need somebody to look up to. I want to be that person."

At one point in his life, he almost wasn't. His father died when he was just three-years-old, and drugs brought down his mom. His older sister, too, who ended up in prison. Baca could've gone the same route, but his grandparents, and a caring adult at the Boys Club in his old neighborhood saved him.

"[It] gave me the attitude of, 'you don't need to join a gang to be somebody. You don't need to be on the street. Be your own person.’ I just kept trying to separate myself from their environment,” he explained. “I stayed playing basketball, I played football for the Boys Club. Some of the kids who come here have that same life I had, and I just want to give them the opportunity to say, 'Baca kept me out of the street' or something.”

Baca wears many hats at Deane; he's also the school's IT guy, and he uses that knowledge to run Deane's after-school robotics club. Once his day at Deane is done, he coaches a Colorado Youth Football League team he helped start, the Colorado Crushers.

"He's a good coach 'because he coaches my team," said student Xavier Ortiz.
He helps buy their equipment and gives them rides, too.

"I pick up nine kids after the day's over. I go around, I pick them up from Alameda, take them home, so they get them dressed for football right away and then we all go to practice together," said Baca.
When Deane heard he'd won a Jeffco Hero Award, they surprised him with a school-wide tribute.

"We lined up in the corridor and we're like 'what are we doing?' No one knew. 'Baca's coming, Baca's coming!' We heard on the announcements," explained Ortiz.
"Baca, you know how much we all love you and we nominated you for a reason because you're pretty special,” Feir said to Baca. “I often say to my colleagues when they say 'what's the trick, what did you do to make Deane such a positive place? And I say 'everyone needs a Baca.'

See the JPS-TV version of this story here or below.

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