Good advice: Do your best
Arizona Republic
Dec. 5, 2005

Phoenix native Roberta Perez-Gloria has kept close to her roots.

Growing up, she remembers teachers always telling their students to do their best.

Today, she passes on that same message to her students, often writing quotes on the chalkboard, such as this motto from Christa McAuliffe, a pioneering educator: "I touch the future, I teach."

Her answers to the following questions may have been edited for clarity or economy.

Salt River Project partnered with Rodel to sponsor this teacher.

Describe the moment you wanted to become a teacher?

Since I was in grade school, I was always the one who wanted to help the other children and I just knew that's what I wanted to be. And then when they asked us in eighth grade what do you want to be, I said a teacher.

Describe your experience with a teacher you admired when you were a child or teenager and how that influences you today.

It was my eighth-grade teacher. He was the first Hispanic role model I had, and my first male teacher. I grew up speaking English first. It was my only language. He inspired me to learn Spanish and to always do my best. That's what I always encourage my students to do, their best.

Tell me what happened on the last day you wanted to walk out of your classroom and never come back?

I haven't had such a day, unless it's when I get backed up with all the paperwork. That would be the worst, but not working with children. Every year I tell the principal, "I have the best class." And every year I'm very blessed and I believe that somehow or another the children that are placed in my care are there for a reason.

What is the most common mistake made in the classroom by rookie teachers?

Many people go into teaching thinking it doesn't take work, and when they find out how much preparation it actually takes, and how much time and effort out of the classroom and in the classroom, they're surprised.

What is the most important thing about educating children that politicians just don't understand?

I don't think they realize how much time and effort it takes to build a relationship with children. The first day of school you can't just start giving them academics and testing right away. Once they feel safe, it's  easier for them to study and to learn. Last night they may have heard  gunshots, and you may need to help them emotionally as well as academically.

If you could change one thing about your job as a teacher, what would it be?

More time to prepare, more planning time. If I could have one half-day a week to just plan everything and to be able to give a lot of quality . . .  Sometimes it's spread out on all kinds of things.

- Ray Parker