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Denise Ferguson

Mr. Rique Ochoa poses with his 6th period AP US History class shortly after receiving the school’s Teacher of the Year Award.

Mr. Rique Ochoa Named Alta’s Teacher of the Year

Mr. Rique Ochoa, Alta’s famous history teacher of thousands of students over his long career, is Alta’s teacher of the year. 

Ochoa opened Alta in 1978 when Alta split from Jordan High School, and he has been teaching here ever since. Principal Ken Rowley presented the award during Ochoa’s 6th period class and referred to Ochoa as someone who creates rich history and traditions at the school.

Asked about Ochoa’s award, fellow teacher Karl Packer said, “It’s about damn time.”

Students, faculty, administration, and teachers all weighed in on the decision and agreed that Ochoa deserved this honor. 

The award came as a complete shock to Mr. Ochoa. “I did not expect it,” he said. “After a few hours, I am still in shock.”

Assistant Principal Shelly Karren said that Ochoa has made a significant contribution to our school and community. “

The legacy of Rique Ochoa is unparalleled. He has a wonderful personality and makes a huge difference in the lives of our students.”

— Shelly Karren, Assistant Principal

Ochoa creates outside learning opportunities for his students. He brings in nationally recognized historians on a regular basis to teach his students. “He constantly looks for opportunities to enrich the education of all students,” Karren said. “The school community including parents, administrators, teachers, and students came together to nominate Mr. Ochoa for this award.”

Packer, who has been a close friend with Ochoa for 30 years cannot speak highly enough of him. He is constantly impressed with Ochoa’s dedication to the students. It’s common for Ochoa to spend the summer doing virtual summer workshops with students. “That’s going above and beyond,” Packer said. “I think that’s amazing.”

The qualities that make Ochoa a good teacher are “his high expectations of his students, the effort he puts into his teaching, and the ridiculous amount of time he spends preparing himself and educating himself before he teaches his students,” says colleague Rob Murphy. “It’s time he won. He should’ve won it 42 times.”

Murphy and Ochoa have been collaborating together for 20 years. For 12 of those years the duo taught AP U.S. History classes together and the two would have 70 students in one class with them as teachers. “It was nice teaching with him,” Murphy said. “We have the same teaching philosophies and ideas about good teaching and he has a great work ethic.”

Ochoa’s impact is not just seen by his fellow faculty members, but it is felt by his students as well. Arabella Matthews said Ochoa seems intense at times. “I know that he wants us to succeed,” Matthews said. “He puts a lot of expectations on us, but he knows that we can handle it if we apply ourselves. He’s always ready to answer questions to aid us in our studies.”

Ochoa will now move to the district competition for this year’s Canyon’s District Teacher of the Year.

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