Ana Martinez teaches her 29 second-graders at Flowery Elementary School reading and math, science and social studies, and English and Spanish using her highly professional skills. She also teaches them by her example and wonderful life lessons: Never give up. Learn a second language. Be kind. Volunteer. Smile. Love your family.
Martinez exemplifies success, and it didn’t come easy.
Born in Mexico, the fifth of 10 children, she was accepted to the University of Mexico but couldn’t attend because she had to stay home and take care of her younger siblings. Then, while visiting her brother in Santa Rosa, she began dating Alfonso, an American citizen, who came to see her three times after she returned to Mexico, proving that he loved her and that marrying him and moving here was a great idea.
They had two children, Annabel and Orlando, and as soon as Annabel started school, Martinez began volunteering in her classroom, almost every day. Soon there was an opening for a teacher’s aide position, and Annabel’s teacher encouraged her to apply. Martinez did not speak English, but she got the job in a school where half the students spoke Spanish. “It was easy for me to be a mom and work at the same school my children went to,” she said.
She went to Santa Rosa Junior College, taking general education and English as a second language classes, while still working as a teacher’s aide and raising her family. “It took me forever,” she laughs now. Ten years to be exact, but she never gave up. When she finally finished, her kids were in high school, and she entered Sonoma State in the work/study program with a double major in Latino studies and Spanish, while tutoring with AmeriCorps.