Leslie Martinez kindles fresh view on world

She jokingly reveals why she started teaching, “I enjoy my summers off.”


Danielle Stein

Leslie Martinez assists a student on their Spanish assignment. Photo by Danielle Stein.

Tori Baer, Managing Editor

Shakira sings an infamous verse in the background. Students dance and hum along to the familiar tune, thrilled to have a fun-filled Friday. Leslie Martinez pauses the song, explaining not only the lyrics, but also its lore. Everyone sits at the edge of their seats in anticipation. The Spanish 2 teacher values that they hear the language in context, especially in something as widespread as music. She goes beyond the textbook requirements, constructing more efficient rules. It is clear that all she wishes is the best for her students here at Oviedo High School. 

Most importantly, her dedication to granting that wish is unrivaled. And despite teaching being considered a challenging career, Martinez has meticulously managed to get as close to mastering it as possible. She has brought a new kind of teaching to the table, expanding her students’ worlds. 

“I think I’m from a different culture than students at this school are used to experiencing,” Martinez said. “I don’t know if it makes me better, but I think it makes me different, and I think different perspectives are important in life.”

Martinez wants to give her students a new experience so that she can bring something remarkable to their lives. She also emphasizes the importance of being personal with her students. 

“I think that if you don’t really get to know each other, then everything is very superficial,” she said. “You come in and leave and you don’t really retain anything. You just aren’t interested in coming to class.”

It sure is working. Her students love everything she does for them and how real of a person she is. She is authentic and peels back her outer shell to reveal her bright personality. She stays professional while maintaining an undiminishing connection with her students. 

Lola Tuten, 11, thinks that it is impossible to find a teacher like Martinez. Her style of teaching is unique, expanding on more than just Spanish. She also applies herself outside of school. Tuten notes that her teacher has guided her through tough times. She reminds her of her stepmother, acting as a mother figure at school. 

“She’s helped me get a lot better at being confident about what I’m saying and explaining certain situations,” Tuten said. “She is sarcastic enough to bond with younger people, but old enough to keep them grounded, in a way, while also putting in hints of humor every once in a while and talking about really good life lessons.” 

Tuten is fond of Martinez’s jokes and sarcastic sense of humor that are normal in the classroom. They add character to her teaching and is something Tuten loves about her, providing comedic relief in tougher situations or just a needed good (or bad) joke here and there. 

Martinez is funny and kind to others. However, she is also stern and not one to waiver when she has made up her mind. Most importantly, she acts accordingly in the right situations. That gives her an irreproducible balance.

While other teachers sometimes have to demand respect, Martinez earns respect from her students. Junior Uriah Williams is a student of Martinez that has grown a special bond with her.

“Everytime I come into the classroom, I am always yelling to say, ‘Hi’ or I dance around her desk,” Williams said. “It’s always fun, it’s always light, but she’ll keep me in line if I need to be.”

She always manages to brighten students’ days. Even if it is with the littlest things, she makes every moment count. Martinez takes interest in the students, showing that she cares. 

“She has exposed me to a different way of learning,” he said. “I think, in the future, I will seek out other educators like her.”

Leslie Martinez wants her students to thrive and survive not just in high school, but also in life. She wants her students to learn more about the world, especially concerning Latin America. 

“Her goal, as a teacher, is to show the love of Spanish-speaking countries through her own little way, to the point where people fall in love with it, too,” Tuten said. 

Martinez aims to enhance the Spanish learning experience by teaching about Spanish culture from her own experiences.

“She is just so well-cultured and well-rounded. You always leave the classroom knowing more about history, culture, and Spanish,” Williams said.

The teacher approaches her students with open arms and her teaching career with inexhaustible enthusiasm. She is considerate and that is what matters. Grammar or new vocabulary is not going to make anyone want to enter the room. Martinez and her teaching will.