30 years ago, Iris Reyes sat in Mrs. Acuna’s kinder classroom. Good ole' days Mrs. Acuna will never forget.
"I remember you coming in Kinder class,” Acuna told Reyes in a cell phone video recording, “a big bright smile always ready."
Reyes also remembers her teacher, very well in fact. Inspired by Mrs. Acuna at such a young age, Reyes is now an educator herself, teaching 4th graders math, science and social studies in both English and Spanish at Barrera Veterans Elementary.
“It was my teacher who sparked that fire for me,” Reyes said. “She made learning fun and that just stuck with me.”
Now comes a whole new generation Reyes is trying to inspire.
“She’s our friend and she teaches us teamwork and she’s funny when she’s teaching,” one of Reyes’ students said.
In the classroom, Reyes says they're like a family. They make mistakes together, and once in a while, the roles are turned when she needs a little help with her Spanish.
“Sometimes they have to remind me of what those words are, or if I pronounced them wrong, they're real quick to fix that for me. 'Mrs. Reyes that's not how you say it.' 'Oh ok, let's try that again then.' They're my helpers," she said.
And if this isn’t proof that it’s a small world, Reyes says she reunited with her favorite teacher by chance in high school after finding out they’re distant relatives.
“She’s not within the family. He daughter is married to my husband’s cousin.” Reyes said. “I see her quite often and tell her quite often how much she inspired me and how awesome she is and I am here because of her.”
Acuna says she’s honored she’s made a difference in Reyes’ life. Now Reyes hopes she leaves the same powerful impact on her students.
“I just love when they get it. When they struggle through something and they finally get it, that to me is so satisfying.”