You know there are those special times in one’s life; becoming engaged, getting married or the birth of a child/children. Well one of mine was on July 16, 2012, when I was blessed by reuniting with six of my Guadalupe Jr. High students, from Main Street School: Doreen Rusconi, Cuca Sanchez, Irma Pardo, Diane Tesoro, Elia Barbosa and Elvia Delgado. It had been a long time coming. I now realize, it was not to happen on my time. But, the Lord’s time.
Written March 4, 2014
To My Guadalupe Students,
Several years ago Augie & I were pouring our wines at Pt. Mountain Wine Festival. I was out wandering the festival as I typically do at these events. A young couple approached our Hug Cellars table, as Augie poured our wine. Augie asked them where they were from? The young lady responded, she was from Guadalupe. Augie then responded, “my wife was a teacher there.” to which the young lady then asked, “what was her maiden name?” Augie saw me and signaled me to come over. After a short introduction, the young lady and I exchanged names and years and came to the realization that I had been her jr. high teacher. Her name is Irma Pardo now, then Sanchez. We parted, after many Hugs. We have kept in contact and awhile back several of my girl students, some now grandmothers gathered at Hug Cellars. It was truly a once in a life-time experience.
This journey has been a touching, retrospective and memorable experience to say the least. When I was their teacher, I had just graduated from Sacramento State University in 1976. Fresh out of college filled with idealism and a whole lot of theory.
I remember my first few months of teaching, I was nervous, but filled with nothing but the best desires for my students. It was so important to me to be an effective teacher. I did not merely want to teach or duplicate the past roles of teachers before me. I wanted to ignite their desire to learn. I wanted them to know they were important and counted. I set high expectations for them (being very cognizant of the self- fulfilling prophecy). I knew they would work to my level of expectations. I wanted to be a source of encouragement. I wanted for them to Dream Big & Soar!
As I grew to know them and develop relationships with them I grew to love and care for them. I started to relax a bit and have fun with them and we started enjoying each other. And, as an educator I knew this was when the real learning began!
In retrospect, I made many many mistakes, but I hope and pray that my hopes, desires and dreams far exceeded those mistakes. That hopefully, I was able to touch at least one life and that you saw my heart as I saw yours.
Thank you to my Guadalupe students for giving me the opportunity to be your teacher. Thank you, Irma Pardo for finding me. LOL. And, to all the students I have recently re-connected with Irma Pardo, Diana Tesoro, Doreen Rusconi, Cuca Sanchez, Elvia Ramos, Elia Barbosa, Anthony Santana, Michael Etteddgue and Michael Lizalde. I have also been able to connect with some of my students via FB. I hope I did not forget anyone.
My hope is that in the near future I can re-connect with many more of my students from Main Street School.
After I left Main Street School in Guadalupe, California, I was hired by El Paso de Robles School, in Paso Robles, California. A fancy name for California Youth Authority. I worked for the state of California with incarcerated young men; ages 14 to 21. The majority were gang-bangers from the Los Angeles area. Sure, the pay was much better, but this was a different world for me. I taught and developed innovative curriculum for incarcerated young men transitioning back into their communities.
As beautiful and well intended as this sounds, it’s also idealistic. The reality is that the recidivism rate was/is very high. They become institutionalized and were not able to function in society! And very few escape the prison bars inside their heads! A high percentage of these young men were very “dark” and had serious mental illnesses I was not trained to deal with.
I was there for ten years, I knew it was time to move on……. I wasn’t angry, if anything I was disillusioned, sad and depressed. I simply needed to replenish.