Teachers asked to share personal stories of who inspired them to teach for chance to win cash award
GritoBlast! — Teaching can be both a rewarding career and a thankless job but a new national initiative wants teachers to not only feel their career choice is making a difference but show them every day.
Inspired2Educate is a national recognition program that encourages current K-20 educators to honor the teachers or administrators who inspired them to embrace education as their life’s work.
Each month, PeopleAdmin, the maker of talent management software focused on educational and government institutions, will award $2,000 to someone who shares their story via video or writing — $1,000 for professional development and $1,000 for their educational institution.
The April Inspired2Educate winner was Math teacher Elizabeth Ramos Torres from Parker, Colorado. The following is her story:
Being an immigrant in this country has been a difficult journey. I grew up in a small town where there were very few other Latinos. Racism and xenophobia was a normal part of everyday life. Due to the stress of not being white, I began to internalize the racism and hate myself. I despised my skin color, eye color, and hair color. My name is Elizabeth, and I remember distinctly yearning to be a blonde like one of the Sweet Valley Twins named Elizabeth. I remember sitting on the bus just admiring how beautiful this Elizabeth was in comparison with my ugly self. Somehow, I hated who I was and wanted to be another person. I was ashamed of my language, culture, and everything that was related to my Hispanic heritage.
Then I started 4th grade with Mrs. Vasquez. She was a large woman who was tall and rotund. She spoke both Spanish and English, which was amazing, because I realized that there were other people who were bilingual like myself. She taught us Colorado history, including the history about the Spanish and English settlers, the miners, the Mountain Men, and of course the Native Americans. It was through being a student with Mrs. Vasquez that I realized that I had a rich cultural heritage and history to celebrate. She helped me to realize that I was Native American and Spanish. She also helped me to gain pride in my family, my heritage, and myself. It was from those days on that I began to dream that one day I could become a teacher.
Mrs. Vasquez essentially helped me to stop hating myself. She also planted the seed of education into my soul. I remember I won a contest that year for reading the most books in the entire 4th grade. I was also identified as gifted and sent to another school once a week for gifted and talented classes. I can also say that I finally mastered the English language with help from Mrs. Vasquez.
In essence, I am thankful to have had a teacher like Mrs. Vasquez. She helped me to survive in a neighborhood where immigrants were not always welcomed.
Years later when I began to teach elementary school, I even used some of the same methods that Mrs. Vasquez used for classroom management and as projects. I came full circle and got to teach 4th graders in Denver Public Schools about the Spanish and English settlers, the miners, the Mountain Men, and of course the Native Americans.
Today years have passed and I still have fond memories of Mrs. Vasquez and her vivacious personality. I truly believe that today in my Math classes where I teach high school students, I emulate Mrs. Vasquez in certain ways and am proud to say I am an immigrant who is a teacher.