Mireles is a teacher, an author and Madison's poet laureate, a title bestowed upon him by the Madison Arts Commission until 2018. But his greatest honor, he says, has been serving as executive director at the Omega School for 22 years.
The Omega School, founded in 1972, has helped more than 10,000 people earn a GED, through individualized instruction. The program, valued at $2,500 per student, is free to people of all ages wanting to complete their high school education and earn a General Education Development diploma.
This cause hits close to home for Mireles. "The GED afforded my sister and brother a second chance—they were able to turn their lives around." He says it doesn't take much to get off track in life: drug use, teen pregnancy, divorce and anxiety are just a few reasons. "Once you get behind, it's hard to catch up." That's where Omega can help, Mireles says.
Mireles, who grew up in Racine, writes about his life as a Latino and is well known for his three volumes of poetry anthologies under the title "I Didn't Know There Were Latinos in Wisconsin."
The M List
Madison Magazine's M List is a who's who of organizations and individuals who are having an impact on our local culture and economy. In its fourth year, the M List recognizes those making strides as mentors and teachers. Last year's list of honorees were making impacts in the area of social innovation. The original M List, in 2013, honored the technology sector. The 2014 M List honored "Foodtastic" entrepreneurs and innovators.