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

Posted by Unknown | May 03, 2021

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.

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Parker and Covert LLP, through its Northern and Southern California offices, provides comprehensive legal representation to school districts, community colleges, and other educational clients in communities throughout the state of California.