The roots of Elmar Cobos run deep in Peoria.
As a boy, he attended the Central School, which now makes up the historical architecture of Old Town Peoria. His six other siblings also attended the school and continued on to Peoria High School where he graduated in 1982.
He had fond memories of growing up in the Peoria school system, where he said he had not one bad teacher, each one giving him something to help him along the way.
It was a humble beginning, in a time and place that was as equally humble, cementing a path that would provide a foundation for a lifetime of helping some of the most vulnerable children in Arizona.
After graduating from Peoria High School Cobos was interested in joining the Peoria Police Department but he was too young, so he found the Adobe Mountain Juvenile Corrections Center.
He loved being in corrections, where he oversaw the Wildfire, Boy Scout, and CAA Sports programs. He became a warden at age 42.
Cobos said he learned a lot in his 28 years at the institution.
“I saw the worst of the worst. But it challenged me to challenge the kids to not go down that path and to break the cycle,” he said.
Today he serves as a Peoria High School transition specialist in the special education department, preparing future graduates for the real world, whether that be in a university, a trade school or some other path.
For his work his in preparing today’s youth for adulthood, Cobos has been named the Peoria Independent Hometown Hero in the Mentor/Coach category.
The Hometown Heroes Awards are a celebration of individuals who live or teach in the city, and Peoria businesses for their local achievements and distinguished contributions to the community.
Cobos will be honored at an awards luncheon next year.
In partnership with the city of Peoria, he was interviewed by the city and aired on Channel 11.
Former Peoria High School Assistant Principal Cedricia Hester said Cobos has been an active leader on campus and works with special education students, helps administration with mentoring and conferencing with students.
He also leads the Summer Bridge Program for incoming 9th grade students and translates for families, as well as performs community service at the food bank with students each week.
Cobos is a dependable person who leads by example, and teaches his students and athletes to be honest and respectful to all adults, Hester said.
“Mr. Cobos has formed positive relationships with students, parents, athletes and staff members,” Hester said. “He is well respected by all and his strong connections to PHS makes him a valuable asset to our school and community. He takes pride in making connections with our students and assisting administration with mentoring students to make good decisions.”
Cobos is the varsity wrestling coach as well as helps with football and girls softball at Peoria High School.
PHS Athletic Director Jacob Holiday said Cobos was the first person he met when he started at the school, and they immediately became friends.
He said you could not find a better human being with a more kind, humble and loving heart.
He added that Cobos brings a unique perspective, being a Peoria alumnus and growing up in the community, as well as knowing the area’s history. And coming back as a coach to put his stamp on the program, Cobos, continues Peoria’s legacy as a generational school with a small town feel in a growing city, Holiday said.
“The first day I met him, I listened to him tell stories of where he came from and how he perceived the school, and we immediately connected. I understood who he was,” Holiday said. “I am proud to say that I can call him a friend and he me a friend.”
Get to know Cobos more here.
Philip Haldiman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @philiphaldiman.