Teresa Martinez has been a first grade teacher at Thomas Jefferson Elementary for years. Teaching her students is her true calling. Every August for 38 years, she has begun a journey with her “new students” and, by May, has successfully completed that journey with her “children.” She criticizes and corrects, because she cares. She teaches her students by actions and words that there are consequences for actions — whether punishment or reward. She builds character in her students and gives them a sense of responsibility.
By May, all her students have been given a solid groundwork for their education. She presses her students in reading, writing and listening. My son, a special needs child, had her for two years for brief periods each day. He eagerly awaited her class, because she included him in class discussions and classwork. She took time to help him understand.
My daughter was a bit of a talker when she came to Mrs. Martinez, so we worked together to help her overcome her urge to chatter. Every day, I would visit briefly with Mrs. Martinez, and her comments about the day would determine my daughter’s fate for the evening. Many a night was spent writing sentences to correct her behavior. My daughter also read more books that year than I thought possible, because Mrs. Martinez kept pushing her in the AR program. Now, if there is nothing much to do, she will be off quietly reading a book. By the middle of her first grade year, she was better behaved and had become a class helper. I attribute this to the strong will of an awesome teacher. I venture to say that, in her 38 years, Mrs. Martinez has accumulated a number of these success stories.
In the past few years, Mrs. Martinez has spoken of retirement off-handedly, and I always thought to myself how unfortunate for the students that will come up after she leaves. Recently, I learned that she will be leaving the first grade class after this year but not by her choice. It seems “moving around” decisions have been made which will remove her from her first graders and a classroom full of memories. Those in charge of making these decisions should be called to question. They should stop, take a step back and look at the 38 years Mrs. Martinez has given to this district and its countless students. She is an incredible “old school” educator who has had such a positive impact on so many. What a shame that, in her final years as an educator, some are trying to rob her of her identity of 38 years, treating her with such disrespect and disregard! Change does not always signify progress.
I would like to ask those who know Mrs. Martinez to take a stand as I have. To speak up and be heard, not only for an incredible first grade teacher but a wonderful person as well. Our prayers are with you, Mrs. Martinez.
Regina Mae Haun