A teacher urges her students to stay positive and remain grateful for everything they have during the COVID-19 pandemic

In partnership with eSchool News, Illuminate Education is spotlighting teachers in a series recognizing educators, the way they have moved instruction online during COVID-19, and how they have prioritized the needs of their students.

Madeline Caballero
English Teacher, 7th-9th Grade
Fajardo, Puerto Rico

“Be grateful for what you can do and for what you have.”

What inspired you to be a teacher?

When I grew up in the 60s and 70s in New York, I didn’t have a lot of great teachers. They made me feel less than because of my Hispanic background. I would never want to make someone feel like that. So when I was eight years old, I knew I wanted to be a teacher so that I could help make a positive difference. And now I’ve been teaching for 40 years.

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Today, I don’t have to teach, but I love to teach. I even retired at one point and went back to teaching. There’s just this desire to see kids progress. You want them to be educated and to teach them well. Students can really enrich your life. They’re so intuitive—they notice everything and are so clever. They are why I continue to teach.

What has been your experience teaching in another country?

Well, it’s really hard to teach in a foreign country because you don’t have a lot of resources needed to teach. When I taught in the United States, even the public schools gave you some supplies. But here in Puerto Rico, and also when I taught in South America, it’s not the same and we don’t get a lot. Teachers are the ones who have to buy everything. In the States, schools will just throw away old computers or projectors, but we could really use those here on the island. We really rely on donations. We don’t care if items are old.

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