SOMERSET, Texas – A Somerset math teacher has earned herself an A+ from her school district, her community and former students, who say she is the prime example of what service to others means.
Beatrice Villarreal is the third generation in her family to grow up in Somerset. She spent most of her 53 years teaching after graduating in 1983 and attending college at Baylor University.
Villarreal later went on to teach in San Antonio, but something led her back to the small town she loves so dearly.
“My entire family has been involved in the school,” Villarreal said. “I just love it. This will be my home until it is over.”
She said with her son being a fourth-generation resident, playing sports and going to school is very sentimental to her.
“He reminds me of my brother, who also played sports growing up,” Villarreal said. “My brother had a bad car accident when he was 20 years old and had to stop playing sports. He had to be in the nursing home, and my mom took care of him for 27 years before he passed. This is a way for us to honor him.”
“When I thought of a person to be highlighted for this series, I immediately thought of Beatrice Villarreal,” said Lydia Padilla Hernandez, Somerset mayor and former student of Villarreal. “She is so selfless and was always a teacher who was big on standing up for what you believe in.”
Hernandez said her love and support for her students did more than just educate them in math.
“Not only will sitting in her math class will you learn math, but you will also learn how to be compassionate to others and how to treat others fairly,” Hernandez said.
She said Villarreal is a part of the reason why she decided to be the mayor of a town they love so much.
“Seeing that she is still here and she is still helping, that is just something I knew I wanted to do,” Hernandez said.
Villarreal said helping and serving others is what her family ingrained in her growing up.
“They joke and say when someone needs to come help, they say I am the first to raise my hand, like, 'Pick me! Pick me! I want to go help and do something,'” Villarreal said. “I just feel that a community is only as good as you take care of your kids.”
Outside of the classroom, Villarreal constantly finds ways to fundraise for students, go to athletic events and push students to be the best they can be.
“B. Villarreal is without a doubt a Bull Dog Nation institution,” said Maury Vasquez, public information officer for the Somerset Independent School District. “She is embedded so deeply inside of the community, having her hand in every piece of the pie.”
Because of that, Villarreal has proven to be a very special part of their community.
“In Somerset, we believe that we are a small town with a big heart, and she has got one of the biggest,” Vasquez said.
Villarreal even stays in contact with her former students.
“It just makes me happy to see what they have become,” Villarreal said. “When they stop by, they introduce me to their children and they say, ‘Mrs. V, I hope they have you as a math teacher.’ I just think to myself, 'Wow.'”
Villarreal said it is more than talking the talk of service, but walking the walk as well.
“As long as you are willing to do the work, the opportunity is there,” Villarreal said. “It is a cliché, but you believe in yourself and you work hard. It doesn’t matter if you were not born with money, you can do it.”
More importantly, she said it about remembering where you came from.
“Everybody knows everybody here,” she said. “You can go to a bigger district where there are thousands, but here, you can be a family. Most of my students who have graduated and are now attending different colleges are going to appreciate how tightknit of a community we are. I tell them to come back and put what you have learned back into your home."