Teacher injured in November wreck, back in school

GOLIAD - Turquoise walls and a banner signed by Goliad High School students welcome their teacher Emika Moya back to the classroom.

Moya, 33, was injured in a wreck on Nov. 6, 2009, on her way to work. Her 4-year-old son, Luca Moya, was killed.

"I don't remember anything," said Moya of the wreck.

Exactly five months to the day of the wreck, Moya returned to her classroom two days a week.

"It was very exciting when she came back," said Clay Baker, 15.

Moya's return to the classroom also meant new students.

"We start fresh each semester," said Moya, who had to get used to new students, new personalities.

The students immediately gravitated to her despite her absences.

"She's not like other teachers, in a good way," said Clay, a freshman.

For junior Miriam Dorantes, Moya's absence was hard to overcome, as she considers Moya like a second mother.

Upon Moya's return, the junior was excited.

"When she wasn't here, I felt like I didn't have anybody," said Miriam, 17.

The 33-year-old also sees the students at Goliad High School as her own.

"These are one-of-a-kind kids," said Moya.

Moya has found support in friends and family in coping with her son's death.

"I truly believe that he's in a better place, but it doesn't make me not miss him," said Moya, who does not believe in being angry.

Miriam said she admires her teacher's optimism.

"She just lost somebody and I don't know how to deal," said the student.

Moya still grieves over her son's death and sometimes wonders why she was spared and not him.

"Reality didn't sink in until I got home," said Moya, who has been praying for answers.

The teacher of debate, communication application and leadership has begun to find some answers within the last week.

"I know this is my purpose, it's just hard to understand," said Moya, who was nominated for a teaching excellence award and principal award.

"She has just amazed everybody," said Emilio Vargas, principal at Goliad High School.

Vargas awarded Moya and Amy Pesencik for their dedication to their students as they overcame obstacles.

Moya continues rehabilitation after school. She has progressed enough that she can now go to work three days a week.

"I wanted to begin and end the week with the students," said Moya.

Vargas commended Moya's commitment.

"She would always ask about her students," said Vargas of his visits to her while she was recuperating.

She finds her school and students unlike any other.

"They're so awesome. The kids are one-of-a-kind," said Moya, who jokes that no other school would allow her to have turquoise walls.

Miriam finds the atmosphere Moya creates in her classroom unlike any other.

"She has the ability to give people confidence," said Miriam.

Moya also finds her strength through her students.

"My 4-year-old son is not here, but I have 400 other kids," said Moya.