- Byron P. Steele II High School
New Teacher Spotlight: Matthew Martinez
Matthew Martinez will be the first to tell you he never wanted to become a teacher.Yet here Martinez is, serving as a seventh and eighth grade Bridge teacher at Dobie Junior High School, and thriving along with his students.
A mariachi instructor was the closest thing he came to the profession, followed by jobs in retail and as a juvenile detention officer. Yet those stops made Martinez feel he was destined to somehow serve in a capacity to help children.
His original job application at SCUC was for a receptionist position at Samuel Clemens High School. When Martinez walked through the campus doors, little did he know campus leaders had bigger plans for him. Then-principal Melissa Sosa, joined by then-assistant principal Cindy Ward and Audrey Wolf, co-department Special Education lead at Clemens, all saw something more for him and from him. Martinez was installed as a paraprofessional in one of the bridge classrooms and suddenly he found his course setting in a much different direction.
“This is when I finally decided to continue my education to become a certified special education teacher,” Martinez said. Five years and one bachelor’s degree later, his talents are now used to help support the social/emotional and academic needs of students who are found eligible for special education and require a specialized placement. “I have done many things in my life, but none bring me as much joy as working with students,” he added.
The high-demand position created options for Martinez with school districts in the greater San Antonio-area. But there was no difficult decision to make. It was going to be SCUC or bust. “The thought of applying to other districts did not even cross my mind,” he said. “SCUC is my home. I can’t wait to continue to grow and reach even more of my goals here.”
A self-described “doer and helper,” Martinez counts those characteristics as essential to the skills he brings to the classroom. “I greatly enjoy being an advocate for the kids who have no voice,” he said. “Sometimes that voice needs to be someone else’s. I am honored to be that voice.”
Every new teacher to SCUC is assigned a mentor to help navigate any potential difficulties to a new school district, or in Martinez’s case, as a new teacher. He is thankful fellow Special Education teacher Lauren Ledwick has served as counsel and friend in his journey.
“Mr. Martinez has been proactive in building positive relationships with students on his caseload,” Ledwick said. “He has shown great improvement on running his own ARD (admission, review, and dismissal) meetings and is now able to "fly solo." Ledwick points out that Martinez is eager to continue learning. “When asked to make any changes or provide suggestions, he accepts the feedback. Mr. Martinez is a great addition to the Dobie family.”
Martinez sees his first year as an opportunity to inject some energy into the classroom and among his colleagues. “I want to bring a positive attitude every day,” he said. “I want my students and paraprofessionals to know that I am here for them and that we are going to grow and learn together.”
Nothing seemingly will dislodge Martinez from a position he now believes he was destined for. “Those who are meant to be here will continue to come. Those who aren’t will leave. I am here. This is where I am meant to be.”