Ricardo Larios MAT '07 wins state teaching award

by Erin Dahl ,

Ricardo Larios MAT ’07, a bilingual teacher at Salem’s Waldo Middle School, was named Oregon’s winner of the $25,000 Milken Award for the most outstanding educator.

Larios was honored during a school assembly earlier this month in front of his principal, colleagues, students and other distinguished community members.

A Salem native, Larios has taught social studies for eight years at Waldo Middle School, a high-poverty school where nearly 60 percent of its students speak Spanish.

Milken prize judges say Larios is widely known around Salem for his ability to connect and directly relate to students and families through his personal experiences growing up in an immigrant family in the same area.

Larios was the first in his family to go to college and has helped build a college-readiness program for students like that at Waldo. Called AVID, which stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination, the program equips students with the knowledge and skills needed to gain success in school and in life.

“Mar Larios … teaches students that setbacks in life are merely setups for greatness,” says Waldo Middle School Principal Tricia Nelson. “He can turn every moment into a lesson and every child into a learner.”

Larios is the second, consecutive Milken winner from the Salem-Keizer School District. The $25,000 prize was awarded to first-grade teacher Julie Cleave last year. 

The Milken Award recognizes exemplary elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and specialists who are furthering excellence in education. Larios is the 77th recipient of the award since Oregon joined the program in 1990.

For more about Larios and the Milken Award, read articles posted in the Statesman Journal and the Oregonian.