Class Acts: A Q&A with Linda Martin

Kathy Palomino, Tiffani Banda and Christopher Banda nominated Linda Martin for Class Acts. Palomino had Martin as a teacher 36 years ago, her niece Tiffani had her 12 years ago and now Christopher, her nephew, is a student in Martin's class. Martin has been a positive influence on all of their lives and is a caring, creative and overall great teacher. They want to thank her for being a great role model.

• Name: Linda M. Martin

• Age: 61

• City of residence: Modesto

• Occupation: Third-grade teacher at Sherwood Elementary School

• Family: Parents, two brothers, nieces and nephew, a great nephew

• Education background: Bachelor's degree and teaching credential from California State University, Stanislaus

• Teaching experience: Thirty-nine years

Why did you get into teaching? I have wanted to be a teacher since I was in the third grade. I went into teaching because I truly wanted to make a difference in the lives of children. It probably helped that I always enjoyed school as a student myself.

What is your favorite thing about being a teacher? It is when you can see the excitement in their faces when they understand and can use the concepts that you are teaching. The enthusiasm is wonderful!

What is the most challenging part of your job? Making sure that you reach every student every single day academically and emotionally.

What is the most important lesson you've learned? It would be the importance of respect and self-respect in the classroom. The respect between student and teacher is imperative for classroom management and student growth and self-esteem. Children need to know that you also respect them as individuals.

What is your favorite teaching tool or activity? I love using the document camera in my classroom. It is such a fabulous teaching tool. Also, in lesson activities, the use of white boards allows the teacher to check on student work in guided practice.

What's next in your classroom? Next we are going to do a science unit on the solar system. It is one of the favorite units of the year for third-graders. In this unit, they do research and project.

What advice do you have for students? You need to work hard and do your very best at all times. It is important to be responsible and organized. You need to always take pride in yourself and in your work.

What advice do you have for parents? First, a big thank-you to all the parents who work with their students at night. That extra time that you take working on math facts or listening to your child read stories is so valuable.

What will it take to improve academic success in the valley? Education needs to be a priority in every household where reading and other academic areas are stressed and valued.

How do you reach students not interested in school? First, you really need to show that you care that they do well. You spend that little extra time with them going over material and making sure that they know that they are important and productive students and people. You really need to find a subject matter or topic that really sparks them on to learning more about that area. That helps them become interested in other areas, as well.

What one area should schools put more emphasis on? Possibly it could be the area of social and life skills where students learn about getting along, responsibility and handling various situations.

What would surprise people about your job? I think that people would be surprised at the amount of time that we spend. We get here early, leave late many times, and at times we work in our classrooms on weekends. We also take papers home to grade at night. Also, people may be surprised at the amount of money that teachers spend out of pocket for items that they feel will enhance the learning lesson or environment.

What are your future plans? I will be retiring in June. Right now I have plans to travel and to do some volunteer work.