La Verne Magazine
Spring 1999

"Education in La Verne"


From the Editor...

by Araceli Esparza

Memories: splattering bright paint outside the lines and disguising a drawing of a butterfly; greeting little people just like myself as I first entered my classroom; and sitting before the small television screen, with a bowl overflowing with Cocoa Puffs and milk in hand, to learn English from Big Bird and the Sesame Street gang. Each memory is a flashback to my first experience of education, when I stepped out into the world to share my life with other 3-5 year old children of Lil' Toots Preschool.

That was the beginning of my admiration for teachers. I remember the afternoon my preschool teacher gently tucked me underneath my Care Bears towel just before I shut my eyes for nap time. I still possess that towel, now somewhat worn and faded. But every time I grasp it between my fingers, I still envision the warming smile of that young teacher.

Kindergarten through eighth grades also created their own reflections of my past. Each of my teachers was encouraging in his or her own way. When I drew a picture of Mickey Mouse as a fourth grade art project art project, my teacher displayed the drawing in the principal's office. And when hesitant teardrops welled in the eyes of my teachers on the last day of every school year, I was reassured that I could always come back to visit. For the time being, I was continuing to grow as a person. I was beginning to realize what a blessing each teacher bestowed upon my life and admired their adult-like ways and confidence.

The experience of high school was much the same, if not more influential. For about four months, I lost track of my direction in life; I especially lost sight of what I wanted for myself. But remarkable Bishop Amat teachers like Ronald Woolsey and Marcus Lewis became more than adult-like educators. Each had become a mentor and friend. Both believed in me and in my ability to succeed. And it was through their faith that I, at last, found my future. Most importantly, I found myself in their shoes.

The road I had traveled was immediately repaved with a new vision -- to carry on the confidence and perseverance that my teachers had implemented in me and, in turn, to contribute those efforts toward educating others. I could see myself holding a thin stick of chalk, directing students in the same way that Mr. Woolsey and Mr. Lewis had done.

That is part of what attracted me to this small, family town of La Verne. Beyond its University stood people -- educators -- who have also become unforgettable friends like Mr. Woolsey and Mr. Lewis. Neither their titles nor their positions as professors could prevent them from becoming mentors and sources of guidance to me.

And now I, too, am preparing to be a teacher to the same world that educated and inspired me. Like my days of sitting before the Sesame Street gang to learn English, I hope to be a nurturer to those who are our future. For those lost or confused, I seek to be a reliable source of confidence and guidance. And to those who seek assurance for themselves, my goal is to be like the preschool teacher who tucked me under that Care Bears towel ... and started my love for those who nurture others.



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