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Inspiring Educator


A teacher who has the ability to inspire students is the type of teacher who will for a long time be remembered. Students who are inspired by teachers accomplish amazing things, and that motivation almost always stays with them. That’s because inspiration is one of the most important gifts an educator can provide to its students. 

Exceptional educators are able to form strong relationships with their students and teachers. They go through great lengths to show they care. They are warm, accessible, enthusiastic and caring. They make themselves available to students, teachers, and parents who are in need of their support. Dr. Joan Molera is known for these qualities. She is a life-long educator who has for 32 years inspired not only students but teachers throughout Santa Cruz County. 

“I want to thank the Nogales Unified School District for providing me the opportunity to grow professionally. I am grateful for the continued support I received from Alfredo Velasquez, Santa Cruz County Superintendent. He goes above and beyond to integrate the schools and districts,” said Joan.

“Whether I am a coach, sponsor, teacher, curriculum leader, assistant principal, or principal, my role is to educate. My role is not to judge, belittle, complain, or bully. Children are watching, listening, and imitating.  I know how important it is to see potential in our students. It is important to provide the support they need in order for them to flourish. I give them space, guidance, and watch them do great things. That is the support I had throughout the years,” said Dr. Molera. 

She recently retired but continues in many ways to inspire not only students but educators too. She is a scholar by nature, who enjoys reading and writing. She loves to research and wrestle with ideas. Dr. Lucina Romero was an educator that inspired her to pursue her Ph.D. “Obtaining my Ph.D. was something for me, something I wanted for both personal and professional reasons,” said Dr. Joan Molera  

Dr. Molera is from Dubuque, Iowa, which is the eastern part of the state. It is a beautiful city along the Mississippi River whereby at one vantage point one can see both Illinois and Wisconsin. She attended Resurrection School for k-8 and Hempstead High School for 9-12 grades. At an early age, she was very involved in the school. Joan’s main focus was academics and extracurricular activities which included tennis, cheerleading, band (clarinet), and choir. 

She continued with tennis and band at the collegiate level. She later attended Cornell College, a small private college in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, located approximately 60 miles from her hometown. The college was highly academic, nurturing her scholarship in secondary education, English, and sociology. When nearing graduation, Mr. “Feenie” Hernandez and Mr. Raul Bejarano interviewed her at a job fair at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. They offered her a high school English teaching job at Nogales High School. She accepted the job and the rest was history.   

Dr. Joan Molera has been happily married for 30 years. She recently celebrated her 30th year anniversary with her husband Rudy Molera. They have a son, Jacob, who is 16 years old and attends Nogales High School. He is dedicated to his studies, music (trumpet), and tennis. They live in Rio Rico. Dr. Molera’s extended family visit yearly. Her parents still live in Dubuque, Iowa and sister, June, lives in Forest Grove, Oregon with her two children, Claire and Jess. Her parents are true snowbirds, they stay during the winter with them. 

“Santa Cruz County is my home in all senses of the word/concept. It is where my family, friends, and colleagues live and work. More importantly, Santa Cruz County is a family-oriented community. The culture is rich with tradition and unsurpassed beauty. The focus on children and their well-being is unique, perhaps drawing on Mexican values. In particular, Santa Cruz County is special to me because of the quality schools and programs offered to our youth,” said Dr. Molera.

“I have been defined by what I do: coach, teach, and lead. It is who I am and will continue to be after retirement. The thousands of children that I have worked with now are productive adults. It gives me deep satisfaction to know that I played a part in helping these individuals develop to the best of their abilities. I never give up on kids even when they give up on themselves,” said Dr. Joan Molera.

Inspiring Educator-Dr. Joan Molera

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