The following was submitted by Jamie Navarrete.
“North Sanpete High School incorporates 9th to 12th grade students from all the towns in the northern half of Sanpete County. This is a widespread community of mostly low income working class families. The school doesn’t have much money so many of the teachers have several roles. Alex Barlow teaches in the Art and Music and the Business departments. He also heads up the Speech and Debate club and the Drama club. The community he works with struggles with poverty, drugs and alcohol. Many of the kids he works with have personal experience with abuse and neglect. They don’t know where their next meal is coming from or where they will be sleeping that night. When they look at their futures all they see are dead ends. Mr Barlow is one of those rare teachers who shows them a world full of opportunities and helps them see that there is more to life then what they have seen to now.
I will use my nephew to illustrate this. My nephew comes from a home with an alcoholic mother. Their average monthly income is around $1500. When he started 9th grade he was failing most classes and never went a year without having to do summer school. In 9th grade he started attending Drama classes with Mr Barlow. Mr Barlow accepted him as he was and showed him just how amazing a person that was. He taught my nephew he could escape the challenges his life presented through drama and from there he showed him he could become more through hard work and dedication. My nephew really turned things around. He found that he wanted to be part of the drama club so he started working hard to get his grades up to a point where he could do that. 9th grade was the last time he had to do summer school. He is now a senior and graduating this year. He is heavily involved in drama and is president of the speech and debate club. He has won many awards through various competitions that he has been to and has developed an unwavering confidence in himself and an unquestioning strength of character. He is comfortable with himself in a way I didn’t achieve until long after I graduated. He is planning on attending college and even has a chance at scholarships because of the way he has been able to pull his grades up and the work he has done with the clubs he is involved in. Without the intervention of this amazing teacher I don’t know what would have happened to this amazing kid. Now all you have to do is take this one kid and multiply it by all the kids that have passed through his doors over the years because my nephews story is by no means unique in North Sanpete.
Mr Barlow accepts kids however they come and then works with them. He shows them that life can be fun and that there is more out there then what they see at home or in their community. He makes sure they get opportunities they would never have otherwise. He takes his personal time to head these clubs and take his kids competitions all over the state. He makes sure they get to experience things they would not have the opportunity to experience in any other way. By showing kids what they can achieve and caring about them whether they achieve it or not Mr Barlow gives these kids hope. He never asks for anything in return. I truly believe that he has saved lives just by being a dedicated, amazing, and resourceful teacher. We all have that one person in our lives, for good or for bad, that makes all the difference. He has been that one person for so many kids.”