After a career in tourism, and a stint in Germany, Springfield Assistant Superintendent Lydia Martinez returned home to Springfield and began teaching. She shared her story about how education and striving for more can change a young girl’s life.
How do you see education empowering the young girls in Springfield and the country?
Education is everything. I tell students, that I would not be where I am today without an education, people believing in me, and a strong work ethic.
You should always want more, and grab any opportunity to learn something new. Students need to go the extra mile to be successful. Without the education piece, you will only get so far.
What can the community do to empower girls and women to become strong leaders and make an impact?
We need to provide the right opportunities and continue to educate. The Women’s Fund just started the Women’s Partnership for Young Women’s Progress, and I’m very excited to be a part of this endeavor. Our goal is to empower young women and support their progress.
Women in every community should mentor young girls. If it wasn’t for other women that saw the leadership potential in me, I would not be where I am today.
Who is a woman that has inspired you? Historically or personally.
Amelia Earhart because of her tenacity and good nature. I appreciate a positive attitude in life.
Also, my mom. My mother was very strict with us because she was protective. She came to Springfield alone, with four kids, later five and made it. She didn’t let anything get in her way. I remember we had strict bed and wake up times, and we were not allowed to leave our rooms in between. One night, I needed to use the bathroom so I snuck down the hall and opened the bathroom door and saw my mother hunched over the bathtub, handwashing our laundry. It took me a long time to understand that my mother wasn’t just being strict about using the bathroom before bed for no reason, but that she stayed up past 1 am to wash our clothes by hand in our bathtub to make sure that we had clean clothes for school in the morning.
I never knew that this story would stick with me and inspire me years later, this is part of what made me who I am today.
What advice would you give to young people, especially young girls?
The individuals that inspired me early in life were the women that saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself: my high school teachers, Millie Barend and Chief Master Sergeant, Henry B. Palmer, and my former boss Carol Fazio, of Forest Park Middle School. Listen to those that see something in you, because if someone truly sees something in you it’s important.
Knowledge is power and it comes with age. Be sponges, and take it all in – be your own person but learn from others to continue to grow. Stay in school, and never, ever give up. No matter who tells you that you can’t do it, prove them wrong. Take that negativity and turn it into a positive; don’t ever let it get you down.
Thank you Lydia for sharing your story with us! #WomensHistoryMonth