Para-Educator & Instructional Assistance
Elba Martinez-de Pineda
Instruction Support Specialist
Emerson Elementary School
Elba Martinez, Instruction Support Specialist at Emerson Elementary, believes that every day brings a different set of challenges and opportunities. In her role of supporting the lead teacher in kindergarten, first and second grade classrooms, Elba typically works with just one or two students at a time to make sure that they are following through on their specific IEP program and academic goals.
“You need to be responsible for what you bring to school every day” she explained. “The way that you feel is transmitted to the classroom environment. If you come with all the problems at the front of your mind or if you don’t have a good attitude, it’s contagious and the kids really react to it.”
Elba’s compassionate approach and deep understanding of student needs are among the reasons why she was named a 2017-18 OUSD Classified School Employee of the Year and Alameda County Classified School Employee of the Year.
Now in her fourth year at Emerson, Elba started working for the District back in 2002, just one year after moving to the U.S. from her native El Salvador.
“One of my friends encouraged me to apply with the District, she said it’s a nice place to grow a career,” Elba said. “I looked into opportunities and here I am. I would recommend OUSD to anyone, it’s a great place to work.”
Elba started out as a substitute at Montera Middle School and six months later became permanent in the inclusion program. Her specialty is supporting students with academic and behavioral challenges.
Cultural responsiveness and Joy stand out as the most important values for Elba because “students respect you when you feel happy for who you are and how apply that in your environment. We have to enjoy being multicultural.”
Her career advice is to “be flexible in whatever you do and remember that communication is key.” Elba considers Emerson a great place to work in part thanks to the culture of open communication. “All of the teachers and staff can say how we really feel and what we’d like to change” she said. “In our meetings with the principal we talk about problems honestly. It matters because sometimes you see your co-workers more than your own family.”
For Elba, the award means a challenge. “I see it long-term, but the truth is that every day you need to bring your very best. I feel so blessed because I have great staff and teachers to work with. It’s a very dynamic environment and the kids show that they appreciate our help.” She feels special and knows that “everything I do for the kids does get noticed. I just want people to know that I feel grateful to work here.”