Today is a special day. Today is the birthday of the teacher that made a huge impact on my life. She was my 5th-grade teacher, Ms. Rodriguez. It was a must for me to write a blog post about her on her birthday. Not to sound self-centered, but I think it’s safe to say that I’m one of the best students she’s ever had, haha.
Before I landed in Ms. Rodriguez’s class, I had failed 5th grade. Both of my English and Math test scores were poor when I took it in Summer school. It was devastating to me. I was so depressed. The worst feeling is failing and seeing your classmates move on to middle school while you’re left behind. I hated that feeling. I don’t wish that on anyone. I didn’t want to go back to PS. 132. I remember the first two days of the school year were Thursday and Friday. I didn’t show up. Ms. Rodriguez knew how I felt without me, even telling her. Failing 5th grade became a turning point in my life, and it led me to a teacher that I always wanted to have, and that’s Ms. Rodriguez.
I’ve seen her way before I even became one of her students. I just thought that there was something remarkable about her. When I met her in 2002, she set the tone from the beginning. She promised my mom and me that she would challenge me and make sure that I was going to thrive in her classroom. I believed her, and I sure did.
Our 5th-grade class (2002-2003) and Senior Year in High School were two of my most memorable and exciting years in school. I’ll say 5th grade was better because we were little kids, no responsibilities, Angie’s read aloud, Peace Games trip, Senior Trip, the list goes on and on. Ms. Rodriguez has a fun personality, but she meant SERIOUS BUSINESS when it came down to serious business. Ms. Rodriguez is no bullshit. She and Mr. Guerrero, also known as Mr. G, were the best teacher duo in those years. They have a sense of humor, well-respected, but you do not want to give them a hard time. They don’t play.
There was one time I almost heard it from her. It was a Friday afternoon. After all of us students ate lunch, we went outside to the playground. I don’t remember what I did exactly. I think one of the staff members snitched on me. When Ms. Rodriguez came to get us, she asked, “what happened to you?” I pointed to myself as if saying, “are you talking to me?” She indeed was talking to me. She had a straight look on her face. As I marched up those stairs, I was nervous as hell. I am about to be humiliated in front of the whole class. When we go to the classroom, the unexpected happened. One of my classmates, Erik Diaz, threw up. He ate something during the lunch period that upset his stomach. Now the attention shifted his way. I began to realize that Ms. Rodriguez wasn’t going to call me out. Erik Diaz, wherever you are, thank you for saving the day, haha.
Some teachers have a motherly presence in the classroom. In that class, I felt I had both: a teacher and a mom. After I graduated in 2003, I came back to visit twice. However, my most meaningful return to PS. 132 was in 2017. I was confident that Ms. Rodriguez was still there, but I got nervous so quickly when I arrived at the school, and the school staff told me she was still there. When we saw each other, it was unbelievable. We brought back so many memories. It felt like old times. She got emotional when I brought up what she told me at the end of the graduation: “You did it! You did it!” When I got home after visiting her, I cried—tears of joy.
About a month later or so, my classmates and I joined Ms. Rodriguez for lunch. I planned the reunion, and it was Labor Day weekend. It was great to have all of us there for the first time in 14 years. I’m sure many of her students who came before and after I can say that Ms. Rodriguez made our lives better.
I’m going to end it with this. I’ll try my best not to get emotional as I’m typing this. I want to say to her mother and her father (God rest his soul) that your daughter is the same person now as the person I met 18 years ago, and you did a great job raising a wonderful human being.
Happy Birthday, Ms. Rodriguez! I wish you many more years of health and happiness. I’m so glad we still keep in touch. I love you tons!
PS. This is the surprise I was telling you about earlier in the video. SURPRISE!!! LOL