COE Alum Receives Hispanic Teacher of the Year Award

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Since 2019, the Mid-South Latino Chamber of Commerce (MLCC) has given out the Hispanic Teacher of the Year Award to teachers from the Latin/Hispanic community in the Mid-South. This year, the award was given to University of Memphis alum Mario Díaz.


“I was very happy when I received the news,” Díaz said. “I know (teachers) all work very hard, and I was just happy to be nominated. To win, that was a plus for me.”

Diaz wins MLCC award

According to MLCC, the award nomination process is made by self-submission and/or nomination from the community. Díaz, a fourth grade math teacher at Grahamwood Elementary School, was nominated by a co-worker and later nominated himself after being encouraged to do so. He was selected from six finalists.


“Mr. Díaz distinguished himself among many exceptional candidates,” said Talia Palacio, a member of the MLCC Board of Directors. “His essay highlighted an exceptional commitment to teaching, strong academic preparation…and extensive community advocacy.”

“(Students) want to learn even more when they see that their teacher is motivated,” Díaz said. “I learned that motivation…when you show them motivation, they care for learning.”


Díaz, a native of Cordova, was a first generation college student, graduating from UofM’s College of Education (COE) in 2018. Six years into his profession, he attributes his success to the COE and the preparation the program gave him. It’s also inspired him, in part, to stay in the Mid-South as he builds on his teaching career.


“The program is beautiful,” said Díaz. “The (COE) teachers are very dedicated to showing you how to run your classroom…There have been other offers from Texas and Florida, but I just want to help my community…It’s a beautiful thing to be able to give back to them.”


“The Latino population in Memphis has doubled in the last 10 years,” added Palacio. “It’s always humbling to have teachers who reflect our student body educate our students and share aspects of their cultures with them and their peers. This award emphasizes the value of celebrating and honoring Latino educators.”


MLCC is a Latino business community focused on economic and community growth in and around the Memphis area.