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Since 1998, Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc. (CPLC) has recognized talented educators in the Maricopa County area. For the first time, CPLC expanded the Esperanza Latino Teacher Awards statewide and Payson’s own Richard Alvarez, teacher at Payson High School, has been selected as an extraordinary educator. Alvarez (right) is pictured here with students (left to right) Daucett Keith, Christian Martinez and Ian Bloomfield.

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In Richard Alvarez’s room, a huge elk head juts from the wall. He shot the elk two years ago and had the head mounted by a former student, Matt Johnston — who turned his classroom skills into a career. One day, the elk head crashed to the floor and needed repairs. Instead of simply sending it out to get fixed, Alvarez brought Johnston into the classroom to demonstrate taxidermy in action.

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