Mr. Erick Obet Quiroz Cruz, our beloved woodwork teacher, has walked a long path to arrive where he is today in NCA. At the age of twenty-one, Mr. Erick immigrated to Mexico City as an illegal worker due to family problems. After working in carpenter workshops for almost twelve years, Mr. Erick returned to Nicaragua, his home country, and discovered something he was very passionate about.
Mentoring kids in woodworking while teaching life skills that went beyond chipping and cutting wood. Teaching kids what somebody should’ve taught him, he says, gives him a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.
According to Mr. Erick one of the best pieces of advice he can give is to be calm. Nowadays the world seems to want everything at this instant, but Mr. Erick advises otherwise. “The Bible is right, kids, everything comes in due time. You guys are young, very young, with your life ahead of you. Focus on learning, absorbing as many good things as you can, and throwing away the bad ones. Take your life easy, relax, today it’s time to learn.”
He wishes somebody had taught him this at a young age. From experience, he has had to learn to be calm, and relaxed. Too many times, he relates, he has offended people out of anger, sheer emotions he wasn’t able to control. For him, scripture has been fundamental in learning to control that anger. At forty-one years of age, Mr. Erick states he is constantly learning, alongside his students, how to be rational in any situation.
Every time Mr. Erick walks through the high school halls there is always a bright smile, radiating joy in a way that is unique to him. Somedays, it seems like Mr. Erick has more youth in him than his sleepyheaded students. He explains how he is happy at NCA, a balmy place where people have been quick to welcome him. He thanks the NCA staff, students, and fellow teachers for the openness and love he has been treated with since he arrived.
Mr. Erick looks forward to continuing teaching kids woodworking, but even more how to avoid mistakes he has made in his own life so that we can steer clear of them. In his classes, one of the things he enjoys the most is interacting with the youth. By being open to speaking about any subject, he gives kids a safe place where they can receive valuable feedback and advice without having to resort to other sources.
Personally, Mr. Erick has been a great teacher to me. The first time I met him I didn’t even know he was a teacher, or that he would be coming to NCA. He opened the reception door for me with one of the widest smiles I have ever seen on a Monday afternoon, and after I entered, he quickly passed me by with his brisk walk. After getting to know Mr. Erick more in-depth, I appreciate the space his workshop gives the student, and teacher, body to be open and real, and look forward to seeing him around campus.
Images from NCAI Publications Class