The Man with a Whole Lot of Plans
By Casey Keating
You know him as, “Diego.” I know him as, “Alejandro.” Teachers call him, “Alejo.” Students call him, “Profe”. However once you’ve been introduced, you’re probably already aware that Diego Alejandro Guerrero Rodríguez is an awesome guy. You’ve heard me say enough times that he’s also an incredible, enthusiastic counterpart.
Alejandro is the Orientador Escolar at IED Edgardo Vives Campo in Santa Marta, where he’s been working and helping students, staff, and community members for four years. He studied psychology in college knowing he would prefer helping students learn life skills, rather than academics. He’s been part of two drastically different school administrations and helped countless students with what he calls, “problemas suaves”, meaning his students are more likely to have family-related issues at home than problems with drugs or violence. He’s helped students learn to plan, communicate, participate, lead, develop good study habits, and master a variety of other life skills.
Two things everyone should know about Alejandro:
- He’s an idealist. When asked who his role models are, he listed a few people before mentioning all leaders – religious, political, and visionary – from Jesus Christ to Steve Jobs. He then launched into a fascinating tangent about a teaching pedagogy and concrete plan he’s developed to revolutionize and improve education. I included the 5-finger chart he drew to explain it to me and, if you would like a deeper description of the ideas behind the words, I would be happy to provide one…or better yet, just ask Alejandro – I’m sure he’d be happy to explain it again!
- He and his family adore Santa Marta. I asked him to name a few of his favorite things to do in Magdalena and he quickly came up with over half a page of ideas about places to explore in the city and in surrounding areas. I also provided that list, and I’d be happy to expand on any of his numerous suggestions, all of which display the value of Colombia’s culture and history.
Alejandro attended two of our Peace Corps training sessions and, both times, enthusiastically created and later launched projects based on what we learned together. After attending our PML conference in July, I came to school to find him with several students hauling books for our proposed Centro de Recursos into our new space before the rector had even approved the project. He was too excited by the idea to wait for formal approval. Of course, I jumped in and immediately started to help; I had seen many more equally astounding examples of his enthusiasm for his work with students before and was excited to help again!
I have seen multiple examples of his passion for his work since. Always smiling, he never fails to greet anyone he knows with a hug, and I don’t believe there’s any other adult in the school a student would rather bring a problem to, which makes him a truly ideal school counselor. His work ethic, initiative, and creativity never cease to amaze me. I’m honored to have the opportunity to work with him and I know he’ll continue to do amazing things for his students and community for the rest of his life. Thanks for all you do, Alejandro, from your students, your community, and me!