2015-2016 Teacher of the Year
Posted On:
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
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Growing up in a low income home and being the youngest of eight children, there were many, many obstacles that I had to overcome as a child.  Obstacles that ranged from having muddy shoes on a rainy day after my daily walk to the corner of my street to catch the bus, for having handmade clothes, or just simply for being a “colonia kid” in an advanced class where many felt I did not belong.  My mother was born and raised in Mexico and only obtained a 1st grade education.  My Dad, a Mercedes native, had no schooling at all since his parents both died when he was a young boy, leaving him to care for his younger siblings.  Having an illiterate father as the head of the household and a mother whose job was to stay home and raise eight children, was a difficult task in itself.  Despite the daily struggles, my mother managed to have a warm home cooked meal on the table every night, with a stack of freshly made tortillas to go with it, while my dad worked long hours in the fields and came home filthy, overworked, and underpaid.  But as we all sat at the dinner table, his stories of his day at work always ended with the same message – “I don’t want for you, my children, to have to sign your name with an “X” like I do and for you to have to depend on someone else to read your mail.”  “Tienen que terminar la escuela para poder sobresalir” – “Education is the key to success.”  My father’s words are those that still echo in my mind today.  

            I worked hard in school not only to excel and make my parents proud, but to prove to others that I could and would succeed.  My parents had a lot to do with my success, but there were also others that motivated me along the way.  As migrant farm workers, we would go to North Dakota to work in the fields.  Being too young to work, I had to attend school, while the rest of my family spent their days in the hot sun.  It was there in Wahpeton, North Dakota that my teacher, “Miss Carla”, as she liked to be called, had us take an aptitude test. My test end result – a teacher. I couldn’t believe that such a test could reveal what I really was aspiring to become.  I doubted myself thinking that I was setting my goals too high to obtain such a degree.  I’m not sure if it was the sweetness in Miss Carla’s voice when she said, “Sweetie, you can be anything you want to be,” or the compassionate look she gave me, since she was the spitting image of actress Farrah Fawcett, or the fact that she, a highly respected teacher, believed in me, a poor migrant student.  She made me feel like I wasn’t just a child labeled “At Risk” and “Economically Disadvantaged”, but someone that could excel.

            With Miss Carla’s encouragement and the love and support of my parents, I continued to work hard in school. I graduated from Weslaco High School and felt proud to see my parents proudly hang my graduation picture next to the graduation pictures of my 7 other siblings.  I worked three jobs to put myself through college after using up all of my financial aid.  Just when I thought that I couldn’t do it, La Feria ISD awarded me a scholarship as a paraprofessional to go back to school and when I thought I couldn’t go any further, my husband Rey was there to lift me up and help me keep going. Once I began teaching, I went back to college and obtained a Masters Degree in Bilingual Education, thanks to a BESA grant from Weslaco ISD.

            With all the help I received along the way that led to my success, I can now return the favor.  My contributions as a teacher have been my dedication to Weslaco ISD for the past 17 years and teaching the students of our community.  As a teacher, I help many students overcome the challenges that they are facing by motivating them, encouraging them, and believing in them, just like someone once believed in me. The encouraging and wise words of my father, the motivation of my mother and siblings, the caring words of Miss Carla and the love and support of my husband are words that will forever be in my heart.  They are words that I share with my students and with my very own children, my two daughters Rebekah and Rylie, because I believe that regardless of where you live or where you are coming from, what matters most is where you’re headed. “Education is the key to success.”

 

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