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Celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week: Attorney Maryela Martinez Pays Tribute to an Unforgettable Teacher

Posted by Maryela Martinez | May 03, 2021 | 0 Comments

I did not speak a word of English when I arrived in the United States from Cuba in November 1980.  I was eight years old, in the fourth grade, and completely frustrated by my inability to communicate.  School had always been very important to me and something I really loved, but no longer.  Things changed when I was transferred to Cynthia Mairena's classroom.  She was a young, passionate teacher dedicated to making a difference.  Every single day, while the other students were working on their individual assignments, Ms. Mairena and I retreated to a corner of her classroom.  She started teaching me first grade reading and writing.  By the end of the 1980-1981 school year, Ms. Mairena had pushed me to cover first, second, third, and fourth grades.  I was completely fluent in English and ready to go into the fifth grade at grade level.  Ms. Mairena and I lost touch after I moved on to junior high school.  When I was a freshman in college – well before Google – I moved heaven and earth to find her.  I did.  Ms. Mairena and I met for brunch, talking for hours.  I thanked her and let her know what a difference she had made in my life.  I would not be where I was at the time – or where I am today – had it not been for her patience and kindness.  To me, Teacher Appreciation Week is synonymous with Ms. Mairena.  It was sink or swim for me during the year I was fortunate enough to have her as my teacher.  Ms. Mairena helped me swim.

About the Author

Maryela Martinez

Associate

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