#LatinosTeach, Recognizing Jesus Martinez


Growing up, Jesus Martinez never thought he would end up as an educator; his journey into education was one of fate. He attended Southern Methodist University and graduated with a degree in English Lit. His goal was to work for a year and then attend law school and become an attorney and eventually start his own law firm. He decided to work a year as a teacher in Dallas Independent School District (ISD); he was hired on as an 8th grade English teacher and soccer coach.

His first day in the classroom changed his life; he realized he wanted to be an educator and completely scrapped his previous plans. Jesus then moved on to teach 10th grade in Dallas ISD and eventually went to Arlington ISD’s Alternative Education School where he was awarded First Year Hero Teacher of the Year. In that setting, he was teaching students that were constantly in trouble and had been removed from the regular educational setting. It was challenging and fun, because those are the types of students that need the most help academically and socially. He was at that school for 5 years, and then went on to teach Advanced Placement English Language at a charter school, Peak Preparatory.

This setting presented a different kind of challenge: teaching high school juniors, mainly low-income, English Language Learners, a college-level course. It ended up a very successful year, with 25% of his students eligible for college credit in English and 100% of them going to college upon graduation. He completed his Masters in Educational Administration from University of North Texas that year, and began his journey as an administrator. He began by doing summer school at Peak Preparatory and was then hired on at Jack E. Singley Academy in Irving ISD as Dean of Students. He learned a lot my first year in an administrator role and proceeded to work as assistant principal for Irving ISD Summer School Program. He was then hired on at Irving High School, and is now in his second year as Assistant Principal in charge of Advanced Placement courses, Languages other than English, Visual Arts and GT programs.

Why do you teach?  I believe that teaching is a calling; it is something that some people do because they are passionate about their content and about our students. It is a profession that is rewarding and fulfilling beyond any paycheck or accolade. One gets to change the world by inspiring young people to follow their dreams, one gets to guide young people into greatness. Given my background and upbringing, I also feel that I teach by serving as a positive role model and offering guidance and mentoring to the many students I have served throughout my career.

What do you love about teaching?  I love that every day is unpredictable, I love the variety that education provides and I love being inspired by our youth that work hard and overcome great odds to become successful students. It is truly a profession that keeps one young.

When you were a student, was there a great teacher who inspired you?  I was fortunate enough to have many great educators in my life that had the patience and wisdom to put up with my rambunctious behavior. Mr. Correa was my high school English teacher and he was an inspiration due to his fun and funny presentation of the material; he is still teaching to this day because he loves what he does. I even called upon him to provide some guidance when I began teaching AP English; he was glad to help and offered me resources and advice – living proof that a teacher is a teacher for life.