Liz Martinez will do whatever it takes to get through any situation, even if it means learning a whole new language and becoming a translator for her parents.
“Once I started school and learned English, I became my parents’ personal interpreter and translator,” she said. “They relied on me to help them navigate through their language barriers.”
The 52-year old San Benito County resident is now relying on voters to bring her back for a third term on the Hollister School District Board of Trustees for Area 2 in hopes of handling some unfinished business.
“For the first time it feels like the board of trustees is completely united in its efforts,” she said.
Martinez was born in Ameca, Jalisco, Mexico as an only child and she immigrated to the United States with her parents at age two. They worked in the agricultural industry for most of their lives, until Martinez got married at 18 years old.
Martinez married her high school sweetheart and they’ve been together for 33 years. They have two sons and two daughters-in-law, as well as six grandchildren.
Martinez has 24 years experience working in education, beginning at the Hollister School District from 1989 to 1994. She was a bilingual instructional assistant at Calaveras Elementary and Fremont Elementary, which closed in the 1990s.
Martinez has worked at the San Benito High School District for the past 19 years. She currently works in the Migrant Education Program.
“It has been a blessing to work with families that mirror my own life, where I can relate firsthand,” she said. “My job has evolved through the years but my passion and dedication to our ‘migrant’ families have never been stronger.”
Martinez is the California School Employees Association President for Chapter 173 and has been on the executive board in one capacity or another for the past 16 years.
She pointed out that special education has been a concern for many years but Superintendent Diego Ochoa created a program that parents have been proud of.
Martinez said the challenge for this school year is preparing for the return to campus in the midst of a pandemic.
Martinez mentioned the board of trustees has to prepare for funding shortfalls or deferrals starting in February 2021. She said they didn’t take into consideration the additional costs for Covid-19 preparedness, which means they have to brace for possible cuts in the coming years.
“I have found this to be the most challenging and frustrating part of education,” she said. “We don’t pay our teachers nearly enough in public education.”