One in a Million: Maria Madrigal



Name: Maria Madrigal

School: Granada Primary

Grade: 3

Support Needed:  Interns, I need people in my classroom helping differentiate with each student or a group of them. I need supplies to keep my students from having to stress about broken pencils and not being able to sharpen because Ms. Madrigal’s sharpener is broken again and I can’t afford to go buy another one.

How long have you been a teacher?  Almost 9 years

What made you get into the teaching profession?
I have a drawing from kindergarten that says “Teacher” and I wanted to be a teacher since, that has been my passion.

Who was your most inspirational teacher and why?
Ms. Barragan, she was my kindergarten and my third-grade teacher. I just remember all of the fun activities we did in class, we would perform for our parents and we would do all these cultural activities, it was fun. My parents would always talk to her and my parents loved her.  I emailed her a few years ago and I think of her all the time.

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges teachers in Arizona face right now?
First, Respect. There is so much going on in this world that people say we are glorified babysitters, sometimes I wish I was. I would make so much money and I wouldn’t have to do partially anything compared to what I do now.  I wish parents would respect teachers and realize that WE (teachers and parents) need each other to help the child be successful, most parents see it as the teacher’s fault or they just truly don’t care.

Second Funds to support us with staff and materials. We can’t support more than 30 students on a daily basis without materials.  There are points in my teaching career in which I would teach 90 students within 2 hours and trust me sharing materials with all of them, was not easy.  Managing over 30 students at a time and expecting me to truly make a difference, it’s a struggle.

Third, Salary.  I have known people that leave the profession since they can’t afford to have a family.  It is easier for me not to have children, because of this career I rather not have biological children, I already have over 30 on a daily basis.

How do these issues affect your day to day?
It’s a daily battle and the fact that I have been doing it for so long, it’s become routine. My first few years I wanted to quit so bad, but I had to persevere for my students.  There were days were I would just cry after work, and now I rarely cry. I think,… I know teachers are survivors, we become more wise with experience, more flexible and we just keep on teaching with our struggles, it’s in our hearts to help others.

What does the $250 tax deduction for school supplies for teachers mean to you?
It means I can claim only part of what I buy, but I will take what I can get. Sadly enough, I will do whatever it takes for my students to succeed, there has been years where I don’t buy new clothes for myself or save up for a trip because I spend that money on my students and if not thinking of my current kiddos, I am planning for my future students.  I have bought clothes for my students or snacks for them to take home for the weekend when I know they will probably go hungry.

How are the expectations of becoming a teacher different than the reality?
People have no idea of everything that teachers do, they see it as something so simple as you are told what to teach or everything is already made for us.  This doesn’t compare, it is hard work, each year you are redoing lessons due to standards and objects and pacing guides and classes changing. Managing your class changes every year due to the class as well, differentiation is key and we are constantly making decisions, every second of the day from 7:00-3:00 it’s nonstop making decisions. There are days it’s difficult to shut off your brain.

Why do you think teachers burn out so quickly?
People are not told the truth about teaching, you are not told that you won’t have time to plan out lesson plans during the school day, they don’t tell you that you are lucky if you get 20 minutes to eat, they don’t tell you that parents don’t support you nor the child at home, they don’t tell you that most of the time you will be dealing with behavior and there is more likely no support. They don’t tell you that not only will you not have time to create lessons plans, but that you are to find your own sources if your district hasn’t adopted a program to use or that you need to make your copies at one point more than likely before school or after school.  At the end of the day, 3:00, you are drained, you think about what they did academically, what they struggled, if there was a personal thing they told you, if there was a behavior issue, what you have to teach tomorrow, what you got to grade, what you need to copy, who you need to call and who you have to email… There is so much to do, that is why people get burnt out, there is no assistant and the class sizes are over 30 students.

What “fills your cup” when you’re running on empty?
The kids smile, our laughing moments, that student sharing their answer because they got it right and they never get it right. Sometimes I think of Ms. Barragan or my parents or that moment when I graduated and knew I had accomplished so much. I think of my troubled student being good now.

What are some of the most thoughtful and effective ways parents and the community can show gratitude?
I want parents to truly… just give time to your child, have them read to you, help them in their homework. Another way is to come to parent classes; our district and school provides that happen to be FREE.  If teachers have a communication tool, sign up so you know the latest updates. If a teacher calls, then call them back. I just want you to help me help your child.

Another way is to donate the most commonly supplies that run out:  pencils, erasers, tissues, expo-markers, sharpeners, and hand-sanitizers. Also reading chapter books or stickers or even prizes from the dollar store for the treasure box to use as incentives. It is important to celebrate student achievements.

Also just a thank you from a parent goes along way, I don’t need gifts or gift cards even though the surprise is a wonderful gesture.  I just want to feel appreciated especially when it feels like the government, the people, the parents won’t support you teaching the future of this country.

What is your wish for Arizona’s children?
I just want students to want to learn, to read on their own, to find that passion of what they like and what they want to be when they grow up.  I want students to have a safe environment in which they don’t have to worry about food or being bullied or not having materials, they should have the same equal education as the richest students in the world. Where students live should not impact their success level in life.

Who do people contact if they want to offer you additional support or where do people send supplies if they want to make a donation to your class?
Maria Madrigal
3232 West Campbell Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85017

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Growing the Tree

Million Dollar Teacher Tree was first developed in a classroom by students in a program called, Next Generation Service Corps at Arizona State University in December of 2017. These students were tasked by Lloyd Hopkins, founder of Million Dollar Teacher project with developing a project that can potentially become an integral part in helping MDTP achieve its mission. The group eventually developed the original prototype for Million Dollar Teacher Tree—a cutout dollar sign that would be placed in surrounding businesses near the partner school. The idea was pitched to staff members of MDTP during the last of their class, and the project was picked up by MDTP as a new pilot program for the organization. After many months of planning, the prototype was eventually revamped into what it is today, Million Dollar Teacher Tree.

Golden Apple

These apples are intended to provide any sort of Professional Development which, in turn, gifts them with key knowledge to add to their personal skill-set to better work with their students.

As educators, teachers are constantly looking to continually grow in their profession to not only learn how to better connect with their students, but to also make the learning experience much more exciting.

Suggested donation amount range: $10 – $100

Red Apple

These apples are designed to provide the typical day-to-day items in the classroom. Teachers spend can spend upwards of $1,000 out of pocket to have enough supplies yearlong for their students– to alleviate this, the Red Apples were created.

Everyday school supplies include; pencils, notebooks, crayons, hand sanitizer, etc.

Green Apple

These apples are intended to provide a big-ticket item for the teachers. These supplies are typically something that the teachers can use for more than one school year.

Examples include; a class-set of computers or new furniture for the classroom.

Suggested donation amount: $500+