Do you remember your primary school years? Or even just the name of your teachers? I don’t know about you, but I am sure of one thing, Sonya Romero’s students are not about to forget hers, and she entirely deserves it.
“Did you eat? Are you clean?” That is probably not what you expect to hear every morning from an elementary school’s teacher, but that’s the inventory that Sonya Romero-Smith does every morning with each one of her students.
Miss Romero received an international recognition for her completely disinterested act of kindness towards her young children of the Lew Wallace Elementary School in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her story has already touched and inspired millions of people around the world, and she was rewarded for her work, and for the human being that she is.
Every morning, Miss Romero who works in a school strongly affected by poverty, takes an hour to prepare her students for the day, by providing them with anything they might need, such as a breakfast, clean clothes, toothbrushes, wipes, and a hug for each of them when they get in the classroom. During an interview with her local newspaper, she said, “I was brought up to learn that what you have, you share”
A month ago she was featured on the American television show “Ellen”, with Ellen DeGeneres where she received $10 000 for her as well as another $10 000 for Lew Wallace Elementary School. Miss Romero said “I feel very grateful and blessed; it’s humbling to see our human connections perpetuated through our collective stories. It’s given me a great deal of faith in humanity.”
More than just the money, Ellen surprised her with a video of her students and colleagues who only had kind and sweet words toward her.
Seven – 5th Grader “I still visit her to say hi and give her a hug”
Ula – 4th Grader “I want to be like her when I grow up, I want to be able to make everyone feel like they are equal. Thank you for all that you do to make the world a better place”
Sandra Torres – First Grade Teacher “The way she connects with students is really authentic. She decides what their strengths are and she really pull that out of them”
Kellie Tomlin – Albuquerque Child Protective Services “ Teachers are suppose to have these professional boundaries, but her heart has no boundaries”
More than simply taking care of her students during school hours, she tries her best to make life outside school better for these young people. She explained to a journalist “Having a 5-year-old beg not to be taken away by the police was devastating. I remember I gave this child the only thing I could find, which was a stuffed toy that I had in the class.
I told this child that I would make sure he was OK and that all I wanted him to do was live and care for this stuffed toy. Several weeks later, his foster parent brought him back to our school and he returned that stuffed toy and said he never let the toy ‘be lonely’. It was truly humbling.”
And Sonya’s acts of kindness does not resume here: 7 months ago she welcomed two of her students in her own home after the Child Protective Service could not find an emergency placement and asked her to take them for 48 hours. Kellie Tomlin, from the CPS said, “Without a second thought, Sonya said ‘I will take them’.” These two little girls did not just stay for the 48 hours; they are still living with Sonya, who is raising them as her own.
To thank her a second time for everything she has been doing for all of these people and children around her, Ellen surprised Sonya once more yesterday by coming to her school with $10 000 more for the school and a new car for this amazing teacher.
The school has not decide yet what they are going to invest the money in, but Miss Romero explained that they want their vision to remain “poverty matters”. Indeed, children arrive at school in the morning with an empty stomach, which affect directly their capacity to learn. She said “We are hoping to create a system with that money that can support children after school, during weekends, breaks or however we can help.”
As for the money she received, she already planned how she is going to use it: “I really want them (her children) to have a yard to play in during the summer; we are going to plant a garden, add a small trampoline and some grass!” She is also planning on offering a gift to her assistant, like a little trip; and saving the rest of the money for her son and her two foster daughters.
“Life is good when I can provide opportunities and experiences for my children! It’s what I live for!”