By Teresa Martinez
La versión en español está disponible al final de este documento.
Have you ever felt like a “poser,” a “fake,” or an “imposter?” I fight that feeling sometimes.
Sometimes, I have also felt like I could do anything! In those moments, I feel “highly capable” as Dr. Gabriel Cortes notes in his seminars on raising children.
Today, as I reflect on why I shift back and forth on the status of my competency, I think it has much to do with my teachers. Through them I experienced myself positively and negatively.
It is hard for me to grasp, but this year I completed a total of 20 years working in higher education! The first two years were spent serving doctors, medical students and lawyers while at the Texas Tech Regional Academic Health Center Library in El Paso, Texas. For the last 18 years, I have served at Baptist University of the Américas in the Learning Resources Center in many capacities; first, as the Assistant Librarian; then as the Interim Library Director; and since 2006 as the Director of Learning Resources. I have provided resources and services via the LRC to this diverse academic community through several accreditation cycles; three major changes in leadership; a total reclassification of materials; conversion from a paper/pencil system to a digital operation; and on-going assessment and implementation of academic library processes and procedures. Now and then, I have even had opportunities to review the academic compliance of other college and university libraries around the country through my participation with the Association of Biblical Higher Education.
Who would have thought that the little Mexican-American girl from the barrio in El Paso would be here? Certainly, my first grade teacher at Lamar Elementary did not. She reported to my mother that I was a dreamer and never did my work on time. Also, it is likely, my third-grade teacher in Glasgow, Montana did not imagine it either. She was very concerned that I would never master the English language since I could not read without my Spanish accent. My fifth-grade science teacher reported that I would likely not finish elementary school, much less high school. Not even my own momma could imagine that I would finish both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree and even begin a Ph. D program. After all, she said, “people like us are not smart enough or have enough money to go to college.”
Perhaps, however, my second-grade teacher also in Glasgow did have farther vision. Could that be why she suggested I read Amelia Bedelia? Could she have known that the book would be a first step in developing confidence that even I had something valuable to offer to the world like Amelia Bedelia’s scrumptious lemon meringue pie? Maybe she knew that even unrefined people bring redeeming work to the table. So what if Amelia Bedelia actually drew the drapes on the drawing pad and dressed the chicken in pants and suspenders? When her employers took the first bite of that pie, it made up for every weird awkward thing she had done that first day on the job!
Then there was Mrs. Ceballos who taught me in fourth grade. Maybe she knew that all I needed was healthy food every day and extra help with my homework so I could learn properly. Maybe she could see that I had the potential to lead and teach others and that’s why she told me about the free lunch program and modeled for me how to learn my multiplication tables using flashcards. Maybe that is why she sat me next to other students who also struggled with their multiplication tables then required me to help them. Maybe she knew the sense of accomplishment I would get when I received the “Most Improved” award at the end of the year. Was it her plan all along to change my trajectory?
And what about Mrs. Navarro who when I did graduate high school gave me a new Webster’s Dictionary, a book on classic plays and three back issues of Writer’s Digest? Maybe she paid attention when I wrote in my journal that I wanted to be a writer. Maybe she believed in me when I did not believe in myself. Maybe someone believed in her at one time, too. Maybe she took reading my homework assignments seriously and saw my heart for learning. Maybe she carried the twin banners of preparation and possibility for me when I could not—just to show me how to think forward and large.
Presently, I am preparing my professional development notebook. I am reflecting on why I enjoy the instructional aspects of librarianship so much. I think about how Dr. Jimmy Adair and I came up with the syllabus, content and learning outcomes for the Fundamentals of Academic Research course that I teach solo now. He was also my teacher—modeling thoroughness and excellence as we went through the process of developing a new course together. To this day, my students are benefitting from all the teachers in my life. I have had plenty in the home, in the classroom, and in the ministry of the Gospel.
Some of my teachers I have not met in person, but know them through their writing. One of those is C. S. Lewis. He and I have had philosophical discussions on many topics including education. In his book, Mere Christianity, he inspires me when he states, “One of the reasons why one needs no special education to be a Christian is that Christianity is an education itself. That is why an uneducated believer like Bunyan was able to write a book that has astonished the whole world.” The best model of a teacher I have ever had is Jesus Christ who knows how to 1) “Express Care;” 2) “Challenge Growth;” 3) “Provide Support;” 4) “Share Power;” and 5) “Expand Possibilities.”
So sometimes, when I need a reality check, I remind myself of who I am in Christ and whose I am into eternity. God has eternal purposes for people, and I have learned to consider that there are visible and hidden talents in each person. I teach with this special calling to “pay forward” the gifts of inspiration, preparation and education. I love to invest in people because God does.
Teresa Martinez serves as the Director of the Learning Resources Center and Chair of the Associate of Arts in Cross-cultural Studies at Baptist University of the Américas.
La versión en español está disponible aquí.