An Iraq Veteran Continues to Serve His Country – In the Classroom

Reuben D’Silva served his country as a U.S. Marine on active duty in Iraq. But now he serves his community as a world history teacher at Rancho High School in Las Vegas, Nevada – the same high school he graduated from 10 years ago.

“I have always believed in public service and I wanted to have a career in it. Being a the son of immigrants I was always told that it was a duty to give back to the country and community that gave us everything we had.”

Reuben D' Silva

Reuben D’ Silva

D’Silva’s inspiration is his mother, Cruzinha D’Silva, who taught for more than 20 years at nearby Tom Williams Elementary School, making an immense difference in her students’ lives.

“My mom showed me that the most important and direct way to help create and shape the future of our world is through teaching,” D’Silva said. After D’Silva was injured in Iraq—he was shot through the arm in 2007 in Fallujah—he finished an undergraduate teaching degree, plus two master’s degrees in globalization studies and comparative religion and policies.

“I had firmly decided that I wanted to be a teacher, and nothing was going to stop me from doing it!” Last year was D’Silva’s first year at the classroom—and also his first as a member of the Clark County Education Association, a local affiliate of the Nevada State Education Association, and one of the fastest growing unions in the nation.

“I joined the NEA because I am a strong advocate of teachers having a collective voice,” he said. As a new teacher especially, his membership has been valuable. “The NEA and its local affiliates have given me tons of opportunities to interact with fellow educators throughout Nevada and [get] professional development and career training,” D’Silva explained. That includes NEA-sponsored trainings on how to more effectively manage your classroom—a challenge for any new teacher, even one with a Naval Achievement Medal and a record of keeping a cool head under fire.

This year, D’Silva said he looks forward to more active membership in the union, as well as working with his principal to help create a stronger PTA. When asked why he cared so much about teaching, D’Silva replied, “The best part of teaching is knowing, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I am serving my fellow human beings.”