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In this episode, Heather interviews Esmeralda Martinez, Migrant Education Program Director for the Southwest Region of Colorado. Esmeralda demonstrates caring leadership by advocating for those that are not at the table. In her line of work, that is primarily underprivileged students and their families.
Where does Esmeralda’s drive to lead come from? Her beautiful and empowering familial history and the struggles they endured that became opportunities for success. Heather’s last podcast guest, Barbara Medina, recommended Esmeralda and was an example of bringing out the best in others. Esmeralda herself now emulates this as she uplifts and motivates her team, rallying them behind the mission of their work.
- Advocate for those that are not at the table.
- Value each individual as a whole. What do they bring to the table? What are their strengths and talents?
- Instill passion— you can do that successfully, and you can achieve more together.
- Uplift and empower others to do what’s right.
- Be true, and reflect that we may or may not be at our best, so stay consistent, focused, true and strong. It is not easy, but you are not alone.
Esmeralda Martinez is the Migrant Education Program Director of the Southwest Region at Adams State University in Colorado.
Previous to being a director, she was a teacher and English Language Acquisition Site Coordinator for the Alamosa School District. She began her career teaching English Learners in 1997. This experience motivated her to obtain a Master’s Degree in Linguistically Diverse Education. In an effort to facilitate instruction for Spanish learners in their native language, Mrs. Esmeralda Martinez completed coursework earning her an endorsement in reading. Mrs. Martinez is a former member of the CABE (Colorado Association of Bilingual Education) board of directors.
Her latest educational achievement was the completion of her Principal Licensure in May of 2013. Mrs. Martinez represents Colorado in the Interstate Migrant Education Council (IMEC) a National Policy Organization Advocating for the Nation’s Migrant Children and Youth. Mrs. Martinez currently serves as Vice-President for the Board of Directors for the Sierra Grande Scholarship Foundation, a nonprofit organization which provides high school graduates with scholarships to further their education. Mrs. Martinez was voted by the people of the Sierra Grande community to represent them as a Sierra Grande School District R30 School Board Member in 2015.
She is currently serving on the Sierra Grande School Board as Vice-President. Mrs. Martinez also serves in the advisory council and steering committee for the College Assistance Migrant Program at Adams State University. Mrs. Martinez is an active advocate for all students. She spends most of her time planning and implementing programs that make a difference for those in most need of advocacy. Her passion embraces the needs of equity, justice and achievement for all youth.
Not At The Table
We all need teachers in our lives, especially now with a pandemic. Some of us parents have to do that role as well in supervising children while accessing their academics. It is challenging. I guess some people saw that I was a leader as I served in many committees in the school district that I worked for. I always have the objective of doing what is right, making a difference for children, and making sure that I was advocating for those who were not at the table.
Making A Difference
I get up every morning and I think I get to do what’s right. Today I get to make a difference and I think I am blessed to have this job because I have an opportunity to make a difference for others. Collectively, we can continue to do this work more impactfully. I have lost a couple of employees and they have more time to do bigger and better things. But they are my biggest supporters. They may leave the work that they were doing before with us, but now they continue to support it. They always have these at the back of their brains: How can we work with migrants? How can we work to make a difference? How can we support that work, even though we’re not part of the team anymore? Remember, now you can support it from a different perspective. Creating our allies is very impactful as well. When you’re living in small communities and you have limited resources, you depend on that support from each other. To really make a difference in a child’s life, you need that team effort. You need that team approach. You need people in the community. Every support that this child receives is going to make a difference.
When things are just getting out of hand, I reflect on myself as a leader. What am I doing? What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently? Recognizing that is key. Recognize that again, as a human being, you have faults. It’s how you resolve those faults, and how you learn from the situations that will make you overcome that situation. I think about what can we do together to make sure that we solve this situation and move past it. We’re not our best maybe because we’re stressed, tired, or because of a personal baggage. It’s really important for us to also take time to recognize that we are human. We have faults and we need rest. We need to also take care of our ourselves to be better leaders.
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