TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - When the bell rings, that means it’s time to get to work.
Inside Cecilia Padilla’s classroom at Cragin Elementary School, students prepare for Halloween festivities with arts and crafts.
It might only be the second of the month, but this October is sure to be one Padilla will never forget — she’s the recipient of the 2019 Esperanza Latino Teacher Awards from Chicanos por La Causa. The award comes alongside a $5,000 check for her service as a teacher.
This year, Padilla is one of four recipients of the award.
“I was shocked at first,” Padilla said. “It’s an honor.”
Principal Andrea Steele knows how valuable Padilla is. Her attention to her students and ability to identify with them doesn’t go unnoticed.
“That allows her to have really sincere connections with students that come from homes of trauma,” Steele said.
In her classroom, Padilla strives to treat students with kindness and respect she desired as a child.
“I think I was born to teach,” Padilla said. “Teachers judged me on the color of my skin. I was pushed out of the classroom or pushed to the backroom. I welcome kids and address them as lawyers, doctors, engineers."
Overcoming her own adversity, Padilla wants to make sure these kids know they are all special.
It’s a message to her kids that treating people with kindness and respect pays off.
“Their culture, their language,” Padilla said. “The color of their eyes, the color of their hair — they’re beautiful.”