Editor’s Note: This is the first of an occasional series of interviews with the everyday people who are the backbone of our community. We begin with Artemisa Canedo, who recently retired after 25 years with Campesinos Unidos Development Center in Coachella. She was as a preschool teacher for 15 years and preschool supervisor for 10 years.
Coachella Unincorporated recently interviewed Canedo about her long career as the first educator in the lives of many children in the Eastern Coachella Valley.
KARLA MARTINEZ/Coachella Uninc
CU: Why did you choose this line of work?
Canedo: I chose this line of work because I loved working with kids. At three years old, they are like sponges and retain everything. The children surprised me each day for the last 25 years with how fast they remembered the lesson, which had just been taught the day before.
CU: What was your favorite thing about your work?
Canedo: My favorite thing about my work was teaching the children the lesson and then watching the results. That is what really fascinated me. It was your contribution to their early knowledge and how much effort the kids put into learning. In my eyes they were very intelligent because they noticed every little thing. I was constantly amazed by the results.
CU: What were the things that weren’t so great?
Canedo: Observing that you as a teacher couldn’t help them comprehend. It really bothered me if my students weren’t learning because I wanted them to understand. I found myself frustrated because I felt like I was failing them. I also had trouble if there was any child abuse because it was a very delicate subject; in my heart, I felt as if the child wasn’t safe and I wish there was much more I could’ve done in those situations.
CU: What do you miss the most?
Canedo: Oh, well, the kids, working with them. In the lesson plan the day is divided in the amount of minutes each activity gets, and I enjoyed watching them figure out and learn things I didn’t teach them. Mostly, how well they listened if you were to tell them something was bad for them. It’s like a feeling of triumph when they obeyed.
CU: What did you learn from your experience?
Canedo: Patience. I learned lots of patience. I had the units to be a teacher for early childhood development, and I was trained to work with kids from the age of 3 to 5. Around that age, children are naive. Sometimes some would yell of happiness or would self harm themselves by banging their head on the wall. Of course, I would panic but then I worked around the situation. When students come back and talk to me about the great things they’ve been doing, I feel accomplished and proud because I know that I somehow contributed to that wonderful mind that has developed since then.
There is no better reward than that.