Today is the first day that some students were finally allowed to return to Fort Worth schools. This included the first graders at Rufino Mendoza Elementary. It has been my sincere pleasure to adopt this school on the North Side for many years. I hope our opening day with the new safety requirements went well. I wanted to thank the pandemic-weary teachers and staff and make sure that they had a lunch to get them off to a good start.
I have supported the school by
I especially support its fitness and nutrition programs. I enjoy occasionally walking and running with the after-school fitness club as they train for two or three events each year. I pay for some student’s registration fees if needed and help the Cowtown Marathon distribute free running shoes before the special children’s race it holds each year. I sponsored the city’s first ever bicycle rodeo and got 25 bikes donated to the kids. As a runner and cyclist, I want to encourage healthy habits while they are impressionable.
Amid the craziness of the 2020 pandemic, it is easy to overlook schools and teachers and how valuable they are. Today was World Teachers Day to honor our under-appreciated educators.
Teachers may have the most important jobs of all. They literally shape the future of the world. They create the doctors, business people, attorneys, scientists, workers, and leaders of tomorrow. Teachers push their students to learn and succeed. They expose them to new subjects. They show them invaluable life skills like problem-solving, goal-setting, communication and instill character. Educators are also role models and support systems that can be lacking. We all have had teachers who have changed our lives.
As the remarkable young author of I am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban wrote:
“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.”
However since March, teachers’ lives have been upended as they suddenly had to navigate how to teach remotely. There were so systems in place, so they had to devise new ways to teaching overnight. Educators had to spend countless hours (at their own expense since they are not paid hourly) figuring out how they could make new lesson plans. They had to continue to reach their students, many of whom had little or no technology in their homes or experience using the internet.
Then teachers spent the summer not knowing when or if their classrooms would reopen and how they could eliminate their exposure to Covid-19. Many have their own children. We have several clients who are teachers and know what a frightening experience this has been. And the poor children have missed seeing their teachers and friends and must be tired of sitting in front of computers all day long.
It is also fitting that this is National Hispanic American Heritage Month. Our government is celebrating the many wonderful contributions made by the more than 60 million Hispanic Americans who have made the United States prosperous and strong. Since 1910, Mendoza has served the Mexican-American neighborhood where it has been teaching bright young minds.
I adopted the school to give back to this wonderful community where I have lived for over 40 years after graduating from SMU Law School in Dallas.
I grew up in Nashville and attended public schools. We had a family of six with modest income. My parents stressed the value of education and hard work. All of their four children have at least a college degree and three were teachers. My mother went to night school for 20 years and finally obtained her college degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio at the age of 68.
So I understand the financial stresses many families face and how a good education can be the ticket to a better life.
It is exciting that many of these children now have good jobs or are in college. For example, I was at my bank on Friday when a new young teller exclaimed that she remembered seeing me when she was a student at Mendoza 13 years ago.
I have donated over $10,000.00 to the school’s college scholarship program to help youngsters achieve their dreams.
Thank you to the teachers and staff who allow our precious children to learn and become the best people they can be. You are doing the Lord’s work.
I am looking forward to another great year working with Mendoza.