FRESNO -- Diego Moreno is a little worried about beginning his first full-time teaching position in August.
"Of course I'm nervous -- I don't want to fail," he said. "There's a fear of failure."
Words began tumbling out of his mouth, though, as he described how much he was looking forward to his new job as a teacher in the Hanford Elementary School District.
"I'm more excited than anything, to get to finally run my own classroom, and see if I can do it," he added. "I just want to teach so bad."
Moreno is expected to graduate this month from the teacher certification program at California State University, Fresno, and will become a first-year elementary school teacher in the fall.
But while he may be a new teacher, the 22-year-old Moreno is well-versed in the amount of passion and unwavering commitment needed to be a successful and effective educator.
Moreno credits his parents with his intial interest in teaching.
His mother, María, is an English as a Second Language teacher at Sanger High School, and his father, Raúl, is the coordinator of University Migrant Services at Fresno State.
He said he has observed how fulfilled his mother appears when her students, who once knew little English, return to the school years later as successful business people. He has seen how his father's life passion is helping every student get into college, and embrace opportunities.
"'Service to others,' -- that little quote -- is what I'm big on," Moreno said. "It's what I learned from my mother and father."
Moreno, an Edison High School graduate, entered Fresno State with the desire to become a teacher.
As an undergraduate, Moreno worked as a tutor and coach for local after-school programs, as he pursued his bachelor's degree in Chicano and Latin American studies.
From working at these programs, and then rising to the rank of program supervisor and coordinator, he said he has became comfortable working with students and adults in the school environment.
Moreno earned his bachelor's degree in 2008, and then enrolled in a three-semester teaching credential program at Fresno State.
As part of the certification program, he has worked as a student-teacher alongside sixth-grade teacher Robert García at Alice Birney Elementary School. Moreno said he has modeled his teaching style and philosophy off of García.
"I just want to be a teacher like Mr. García," Moreno said. "The kids know he cares. I want them to see that I care."
García is confident that Moreno will accomplish his goals as an educator.
"He is hands down, the best student teacher I've ever had," García said in a phone interview.
García described Moreno as an organized, energized, and very prepared young teacher, who is able to connect with students and make learning fun.
"He is very motivated to reach these kids," García said. "The biggest part about him is that he cares about them... He goes that extra mile for the kids."
Moreno said he feels very lucky to have secured a teaching position for the upcoming school year, especially at a time when many school districts are suffering from tight budgets and laying off teachers and staff.
As a teacher, Moreno said he would strive to be an excellent role model for his young students. He also hopes to share with them his love for reading -- especially newspapers and magazines -- and his passion for sports -- especially those that feature athletes who break barriers.
Most of all though, he said he wants to make a difference in the lives of his young students.
His goal, he said, is to be "the best teacher I can be, so the kids can learn, and once they learn and have the tools, they'll have opportunities."
Centennial Elemenatary School principal David González, who has worked with Moreno through after-school programs, said Moreno is a mature teacher for his age, and excels at knowing the school curriculum, and classroom management. He said Moreno has the energy and positive attitude to be a successful teacher, and eventually an effective school administator.
"I believe he has some really good people skills, really good organization skills, and he's got some very good insight into what is needed," González said.
In a few years, he said, "I see him finishing his Masters, and getting into administration."