Commentary: Los Fresnos teacher had special impact on Coast Guard family

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Dora Romero Elementary School is seen in this undated photo in Brownsville. (Courtesy: Dora Romero Elementary School/Facebook)

We are a military family who moved to Los Fresnos in the fall of 2021 due to my husband’s job with the U.S. Coast Guard. He is an XPO at the Aids to Navigation team at Station South Padre Island. We moved from Sitka, Alaska. At the time, my girls were 8 and 10, going into third grade and fifth grade. They attended a school in Alaska that was situated on the ocean, and they played in tide pools during recess and PE. They both would go on hikes in the mountains, kayak to islands and take field trips to local salmon hatcheries. Coming back to a traditional school was going to be a challenge. My oldest was having the hardest time as she is an active child.

I remember the initial teacher-parent conference with Mrs. Aleman, her fifth-grade teacher, explaining our circumstances. She listened intently to our story. She then made a concerted effort to make my oldest feel seen. She asked her to bring in her school album from Alaska to share with the other students and tell them about Alaska. She recommended my child for the gifted and talented program, and my daughter can now do the GT camp during the summer. She also realized my daughter always had a book in her hand. She encouraged her to participate in the accelerated reader program, and my oldest got her AR Doctorate, which was the first one at Dora Romero Elementary School. Mrs. Aleman encouraged my oldest to reach her potential and made her feel capable. In the following years, my youngest had Mrs. Aleman for fourth and then fifth trade. My youngest has enjoyed the structure and consistency that is provided for her as she loves order too. She was interested in being on the student council, and Mrs. Aleman had her be the class representative in fourth grade and the student council representative for fifth grade. My youngest has also blossomed and grown under her guidance as well. She also did Reading UIL as a result of her encouragement. My youngest feels not only a part of her class but part of the community that is Dora Romero as a result of Mrs. Aleman. She loves school as a result of her amazing teacher.

With regard to communication with parents, I can say that Mrs. Aleman is extremely adept at communicating. If we needed any additional support at school or help with an assignment, she would bend over backward to make that happen. My oldest needed some extra academic support, and she gave this to her in her down time. If they had medical or emotional concerns, she would make sure their needs were always met. I had no doubt ever that they were in good hands and safe with their teacher, which is comforting in the climate of our world today. So now it is moving season for our family, and we will be leaving this lovely community due to my husband’s military obligation. We had our fifth-grade graduation at Dora Romero already; however, Mrs. Aleman still had a surprise for my youngest. She made a special effort to have all the students sign a decorative poster board telling my daughter a special goodbye. In addition, she made her a blanket with her classmates that says, “We will miss you.”

All of the children will be leaving the school and moving on to middle school. She made a special effort to recognize my child, who has to move not because she wants to every three years but because we have to move. This gesture made this mom become very emotional.

Military children’s needs don’t always get recognized. Mrs. Aleman saw what each of my children needed throughout their time with her. We are so grateful and thankful for the time with her in her classroom.

That being said, I am 100% certain that she connects with all of the children in her classroom despite their learning styles, personalities or individual needs. I also know she will keep going above and beyond for her students, because that is just who she is, a great teacher. Thanks for letting me share our story.

Jesselyn Ebanks is a former Los Fresnos resident.