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The Many Hats of Mr. De Tuya

by Joseph Alonso

Mr. De Tuya (second from left) posing with a CCHS alum and two debaters - Nicholas Diaz and Gonzalo Palenzuela. (photo credit: CCHS Debate Instagram)

Most people have a few hats- a special focus on just a few activities, But Mr. Gabriel De Tuya is the opposite.

Mr. De Tuya is an exceptional example of dedication and passion for his work at Columbus. From being a teacher to moderating the Debate and Jiu Jitsu clubs, Mr. De Tuya impacts the lives of dozens of students, current and former, every day.

In 2008, Mr. De Tuya started his journey here at Columbus where he was taught by Columbus legends like Mr. Lynskey and Mr. O'Brian. Coincidentally, it was these same two teachers that inspired Mr. De Tuya to begin his journey in teaching.

"I was a freshman in OBs class... and he'd tell some story and in that moment I just had a strong thought that this is what I want to do. This guy's got the best job," Mr. De Tuya said.

After graduating in 2011, Mr. De Tuya continued his academics at Florida International University where he studied philosophy, and later on acquired his master's degree in 2017. From there, Mr. De Tuya pursued his dream since his freshman year of teaching, where he was able to finally end up at Columbus in 2020.

To him, teaching allows him to connect and aid young students in becoming new people. From their freshman to senior year, his favorite part about teaching is seeing these students change and grow year after year.

He said: "I like seeing kids personalities come out... and I like that what I do has an impact on kids... one way or another."

As a teacher, Mr. De Tuya was able to acquire even more hats, beginning with the speech and debate team.

"Mr. De Tuya has definitely helped me become more of my own person and helped me be more confident in what I know and who I am," says Senior Nicholas Dominguez.

In the 2019-2020 school year, former speech and debate coach Randall Martinez had left the school which meant that there was a position open for the head coach position of the team.

Thankfully, this piqued Mr. De Tuya's interest.

"My department chair asked me if I wanted to help the FIU debate team in judging and I spent a whole saturday at UM debating and I had a blast... and I decided I would pursue that more," he said.

In his first year of teaching, Mr. De Tuya coached and judged debate and once he was able to start teaching at Columbus, he took over Mr. Martinez's former role of speech and debate coach.

"[I love] seeing how students develop a more mature perspective on the world as I see students learn so much more about issues in the world," he added.

At the end of the 2019-2020 school year, Mr. De Tuya was already able to have his students compete at the National Speech and Debate Tournament online.

In the season that followed in the 2021-2022 school year, the team saw immense success which only grew as time went on. Now, thanks to his coaching, the team has been able to travel across the nation earning awards and accolades making the team a massive national power in debate.

"Mr. De Tuya has impacted me greatly not just in debate but in life in general, his great personality and coaching skills allowed me to place in my first tournament of the year," says Sophomore Santiago Rodriguez.

Mr. De Tuya wasn't just satisfied with two hats, however, as in 2021 he was introduced to Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu.

During the pandemic, Mr. De Tuya had been running around his block and going to the gym but he found that boring very quickly. Because of this, he and his wife decided it was time to search for something new and fun to try to stay active.

"During COVID, I was looking for something active and competitive [and] I was recomended Jiu-Jitsu" he said.

In his search, many of Mr. De Tuya's friends had already gotten into the sport of Jiu-Jitsu which was almost like fate being recommended by so many friends to try the sport at the same gym. And when he started training, he instantly fell in love.

Mr. De Tuya says, "Everyone [at the gym] was really cool and I really enjoyed the workout I got as well as the mental aspect from it."

In just the first few months of training, he was already interested in competing and becoming more involved in the Jiu-Jitsu community.

Now, Mr. De Tuya has been training for over two years and has even earned his blue belt as a result of his hard work and dedication to the sport.

Photo Credit: Lazaro Amaro, Miami Jiu Jitsu Team

In addition and with the help of class of 2023 alum Nicholas Rojas in the 2021-2022 school year, Mr. De Tuya was able to begin the Jiu-Jitsu club which has now seen extreme success and is becoming one of the premier clubs & sports at Columbus.

Jiu-Jitsu club practice photo taken by Joseph Alonso

It is also, in part, thanks to this training that has allowed Mr. De Tuya to start the Wrestlemania event during the walkathon at Columbus. This idea originated when Mr. De Tuya and other members of the staff decided to host the event to raise more money for the walkathon.

After its huge success, the event continues today with Mr. De Tuya being one of the leaders of this project.

Photo Credit: Brother Eladio Gonzalez

Jiu-Jitsu is certainly an important hat, but it is not the last. With Mr. De Tuya's collection continuously growing, it is important to recognize his guitarist hat.

Since his high school days at Columbus, Mr. De Tuya has been a practicing musician and guitarist. He began in his freshman year of high school when he practiced on his father's guitar.

"I spent a lot of time learning intros to songs but it sounded like a broken jukebox for the first year," he said.

Impressively, Mr. De Tuya has been completely self-taught throughout his time but he had lots of friends who helped him along his path.

In C12 where he had Spanish class, Mr. De Tuya formed a band with all his friends in class and even eventually played at carnivals and other events with this band. Further into his career after his graduation, Mr. De Tuya has continued to play guitar at multiple venues and even was a part of the recent Teacher-Rock concert, Explorer Palooza.

All these hats may seem overwhelming for one person, and rightfully so, but Mr. De Tuya has been able to exceptionally balance all of these activities in his daily life.

With the support of his wife, Mr. De Tuya can balance being a teacher, debate coach, Jiu-Jitsu moderator, guitarist and husband.

"My wife has always been very understanding and supportive of my hobbies," he said.

As a result of being so involved, all of these different hats have allowed Mr. De Tuya to be extremely organized in his life.

Balance is key, and Mr. De Tuya has become a master at it. Thanks to all his hobbies, Mr. De Tuya has transformed his life and has become an exceptional character of passion, motivation and enthusiasm at Columbus; A man of many hats.

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