When Rogelio Martinez was in high school, he had an open period in his schedule. Looking at the list of electives, he decided to enroll in Lisa Moya King’s dance class.
That choice worked out better than Rogelio could have predicted. At the time, he was living with various family members — his father had been deported and his mother wasn’t in the picture — and he was being physically abused at home.
Lisa and Rogelio, now 21, sat down to remember how she helped him through.
Click here for the transcript.
Lisa Moya King (LMK): When you couldn’t move one day in dance class.
RM: And people would ask me, like, “Are you ok?” I’m like, “Yeah, I’m just tired.”
LMK: I remember I asked, “Well, why can’t you dance?” And you showed me...
LMK: Bruises. You revealed to me that there was some trouble at home. You know, I tried to do everything that I was supposed to as a teacher, which I had to report. And I did it anonymously, of course. But it was maybe days after that when you called me to tell me that you were running away. My husband, he had ran away when he was your age exactly, and he was taken in by his choir teacher.
RM: I remember you said, you know, “I don’t care about my job.” You just wanted to help me.
LMK: So, you stayed with me a couple of times when you just didn’t have a place to go, or we needed to go pick you up. And I remember when you spent Thanksgiving with my family. I taught you how to make a pumpkin pie. That was a really special Thanksgiving, because I had my immediate family, my husband, my children, my grandmother. And you were there. I had everybody there that I truly loved.
RM: Well, I, for a long time in my life didn’t have that experience to even call somebody a mom. But just to see you—the way you took care of me—that’s how a mom should act.
I just feel like there is no other way for me to thank you…for everything. You showed me that I’m not alone—that I actually have somebody.
LMK: I think, what you don’t realize is that you helped me, too. You have taught me a lot about being a teacher, but you’ve also taught me a lot about being a parent. Just the other day someone said, “Is that your son?” And I said, “Yes.” You always have a family here. You always will.