MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- Sometimes, the best lessons come from hearing someone else's struggles.
At least that's what Ana Rodriguez has found. The English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher -- who will start at Mamaroneck Avenue School in September -- said she loves sharing with her students how she came to Westchester from Uruguay at age 11 not knowing much English.
"For the first few weeks I would come home with headaches because I couldn't understand people around me," she said of her experience at Port Chester Middle School.
Realizing she needed to speak English if she wanted to move forward, she put her entire all into learning the language. "Soon I was speaking at a conversational level and could help my parents with everyday communications," she said.
At Hommocks Middle School, which she attended the following year, she said her favorite class was ESL with her teacher, Ana Mosquera. "This is where I felt most comfortable and was inspired to succeed," she said.
Fast forward 15 years and she's now about to join Mosquera, who she credits with motivating her to become an ESL teacher, as a colleague. (Mosquera, as it happens, is now teaching at Mamaroneck Avenue School.)
"I didn't know I wanted to become a teacher until I took the child psychology class at Mamaroneck High School," Rodriguez said. "But I knew all along that I wanted to be a welcoming and comforting teacher like Ms. Mosquera was for me."
Rodriguez went on to attend Westchester Community College for a year and then transferred to SUNY Oneonta. After graduating, she came back to Mamaroneck to work at Murray Avenue as a substitute and teacher's aide and then transferred to Mamaroneck Avenue School and was hired as the building substitute. It was then she began working on her master's degree at College of New Rochelle for Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL).
From there, she went to East Harlem Scholars Academy II, where she learned the impact of supporting a child by engaging their families in the education process.
It's a philosophy she looks forward to bringing to the Mamaroneck Avenue School this year. After all, as the first in her family to go to college, she knows firsthand the hard work it takes to go from a student who gets headaches all the time to the one who eventually flourishes and finds success.