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The Student Becomes The Master

By Naomi Hermosillo 

Merced High School teacher, and former student, Leticia Rivero, met with a MUHSD student intern, Naomi Hermosillo, for an interview. They discussed her time as a student at MHS, her transition into teaching, and her advice for future teachers. 

A member of the graduating class of 2010, Ms. Rivero shared that her favorite memory at Merced High School was being a cheerleader at Friday night football games. She was involved in leadership, and her class helped start the tradition of Winter Wishes, which continues to this day.  

After graduating, she continued her education at Merced College and CSU Stanislaus, majoring in biology. Coming from a long line of teachers, Ms. Rivero described her childhood as, “I literally grew up in the classroom, writing on the whiteboard, well at that time it was a chalkboard.” Her exposure to the profession and her love for helping others pushed her toward getting her teaching credential at UC Merced. Merced High School was her first choice to start teaching at, wanting to give back to her community and help students who were growing up in the same school as she did. 

Returning to Merced High, many things remained the same, except her teachers, were now her colleagues. Some of the teachers that taught her and are currently teaching include, Mr. Tetencago (chemistry), Mr. Jimenz (math), Ms. Cheisa (English), Mr. Sebastian (US History), and Ms. Meyers (leadership). She did notice that the campus has “been painted a few times,” but ultimately described the experience as coming home.

With four years of teaching under her belt, she has experienced many of the highs and lows of her job. Working with her students and getting to see them accomplish their goals is one of the most fulfilling aspects of her career. She wants all students to know that no matter your background if you put your mind to something you can accomplish it. To her, the biggest drawback is not having enough time in the day. There are so many activities to be involved in, but not nearly enough time. She has taught a variety of subjects all related to science (Earth Space Science, Biology, Biotechnology, etc.), and is very passionate about science because it’s so applicable to the real world. 

When it comes to policies on late work and cellphones, she prioritizes her students' success above all else. When she went to MHS, cell phones weren’t allowed on campus, and her mindset has largely stayed the same. She wants her students to do well and not be distracted when they are in her classroom. When it comes to late work she commented, “I think it’s really important to remember that our students are people and are experiencing a lot of life scenarios.” She tries to be considerate of her students' situations, making it her priority to work with them and ensure they’ve mastered the material. 

In addition to her time as a teacher, she also coaches soccer, high jump, and track. She loves seeing a different side of her students outside of the classroom, being able to get to know them and experience different aspects of their personalities. Being a part of a student athlete’s journey as they set a goal for themselves and chase it (excuse the track pun), is one of the most enjoyable parts of coaching for her. 

The recent graduating class of 2022 were Ms. Rivero’s first set of freshman, and seeing them leave MHS left her filled with mixed emotions. She remembered feeling excited when she graduated and prepared to start her life outside of high school. With her students, however, she recalled feeling bittersweet. She reflected, “Though I’m excited for them, I’m a little sad because I’m not going to get to see them on campus every day […] I can’t wait to see what they're going to accomplish in their futures.” 

By the end of the interview, Ms. Rivero had some advice for students interested in pursuing teaching.  She recommends that any future teachers should pick a subject that they are passionate about since they’ll be teaching that for roughly the next twenty years. Additionally, it’s important to try and work with students before committing to becoming a teacher. She advises working as a tutor or volunteering in a classroom to dip your toes in the profession before diving in; she started as a math tutor. 

Leticia Rivero is a true MHS bear and will continue to teach, serving as an inspiration and a mentor to her students. 

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Interview Photo