Dear Mom, Thank You For Being My First Teacher

Dear Mom,

Gracias. Gracias por ser mi primera maestra. Gracias por sacrificar tus sueños educativos para que los míos se realizan. Since Teacher Appreciation Week and Mother’s Day are here, I cannot help but give gratitude to the woman who showed me what it was to be an educator. My mother is a strong woman, who works hard, puts family first, and has high expectations. Growing up in a large family of immigrants, college would have been a selfish ask. While she excelled in school, her path was already marked, and my mom had to continue to work. However, her entry to being an educator came from being an instructional aide for San Diego City schools. After getting married and then giving birth to me, my mother saw her dreams of going to college to become a credentialed teacher slowly slip away only to pass them on to her children.

Since I was young, I remember my mom constantly setting the expectation for me and my siblings to pursue higher education. As I sit back and reflect on my mother and all that she has given me, a clear memory stands out that illustrated her sacrifices. I remember the time my mother actually tried to go back to school as a mom and wife. I’m not sure that she ever even registered because the information she gathered was more than enough for her to understand that she didn’t want to lose out on ensuring that she was present to mentor her children and guide them to ensure they were set up on the college path. I remember asking her one day, “Why don’t you become a teacher, mom?” As a young child, I didn’t understand why her dream couldn’t become a reality, but as a mother now myself, I can only try to empathize with how conflicting this must have been for her. Because my mother sacrificed her education, I was able to continue on the college route. From high school, I immediately attended a four year college and then rolled right into my master’s program while teaching full-time. I can see how difficult this would have been if I had children.

Even though my mother didn’t have a contract with a school to grant her the title of teacher, she definitely earned that title as one of my greatest educators. She came home every day and utilized strategies she saw in the classroom to support our development. She was our first reading teacher, our first math teacher, and our first educator to teach us empathy. She prepped meals while tutoring us on our homework. She did laundry while reading us books, and she put us to bed every night knowing that her sacrifices would inspire my sister and me to become the educator that she always wanted to be. As a grandmother now, she has converted her garage into her own mini classroom, teaching her grandchildren how to write, providing them opportunities to express themselves creatively, and providing a reading corner to snuggle up with a book.

So, as teacher appreciation week comes to a close and Mother’s Day celebrations wrap up, gracias to all the moms out there who make so many sacrifices, whether that includes going to school or not, your actions are building strong children who take notice!


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Diana Cornejo-Sanchez

Diana Cornejo-Sanchez

Diana started her educational journey as a high school Humanities teacher with San Diego Unified. She then had the opportunity to be a founding teacher of High Tech High Media Arts, where she taught and mentored new teachers for over ten years. After teaching, she joined the University of San Diego’s Jacob’s Institute for Innovation in Education where she supported large urban school districts in strategic thinking to bring about systemic change to provide students with active learning experiences. Her work here led her to lead change as the Director of Urban Discovery Academy, a Tk-8 project based learning charter school. Her passion for supporting teachers all throughout her journey brought her back to High Tech High as the Director of the Intern and Induction programs, where she supports new teachers and their mentors.

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