Last week I had the pleasure of visiting Amelia Maldonado Elementary in Tucson, Arizona, to talk with their first and second grades. The school is named in honor of Amelia Margarita Maldonado, who lived from 1895-1988. I quote from the school's website: "She became a pioneer in bilingual education teaching in both English and Spanish around 1919. A third native generation of Tucson, she was the youngest of three daughters of Francisco and Josefa Maldonado. The Maldonados considered education a 'sacred honor', and encouraged their daughter to continue. Amelia was one of the first Latinas to graduate from the University of Arizona in 1919. She began teaching at Drachman Elementary at the heart of the barrio. More information can be found in the book Latinas in the United States, A Historical Encyclopedia, edited by Vicki Ruiz and Virginia Sanchez Korrol."
I planned to drive down to Maldonado the morning of my visit. I left my house at 6 am for the 2-hour drive---plenty of time to arrive before my 9 am program, I thought. Perhaps I would even have time for a second breakfast before I presented! But it was not to be. First there was an automobile accident---fortunately not serious, but enough to delay traffic considerably. Then there were the long, long sections of road repair work. Again, more delays. And last but not least, miles and miles of all traffic travelling at just 35 mph or less. When I finally got up to the obstruction myself, I found that it was a huge, two-lane-wide piece of machinery on an enormous rig, travelling along the highway at a snail's pace, escorted by multiple police cars with flashing lights, fore and aft. All of us by-now-anxious commuters had to inch around this behemoth one vehicle at a time. I glanced at my watch more and more frequently. Eight-thirty...eight-thirty-five...eight-forty...and I was still miles away from Maldonado. I called the librarian on my cell phone and alerted her to the problem. At eight-fifty-five I wheeled into the Maldonado parking lot, dripping with persperation. Whew! I grabbed my satchel, jumped out of the car, and bounded into the inner courtyard where the librarian was waiting for me. She rushed me to the library, I taped paper to the rolling bulletin board, and was ready to go---just as the students began filing into the room! Whether because of the rush, or in spite of it, my program was a complete success.