Educator of the week

Dr. Elizabeth Martinez 
Graham Elementary School

Los Angeles Unified School District
Favorite teaching Subjects: Reading, Math, Science, and Art

With a strong upbringing and desire to give back to her community, Dr. Elizabeth Martinez has taught at Lorena Elementary School for 23 years and was recently appointed Assistant Principal at Graham Elementary School in South Los Angeles.

As a child, she knew that teaching was her calling. She remembers role playing as a teacher with her younger sister, using their rundown garage as a classroom. Although she felt like a teacher at home, she struggled in class. One of the most difficult obstacles she faced was reading. With the support and strong efforts of her teachers, who would not give up on her, Dr. Martinez became a strong reader, breaking a reading code that once felt like an impossible hurdle to overcome.

As she continued to grow as a student, she remembered and found motivation in her father's words, “An education can’t ever be taken away from you and use education to help others, especially the eastside community." These words drove her as she began her journey through higher education. Right after high school, Dr. Martinez enrolled at Mount St. Mary’s College. During her freshman year, however, her family came to the conclusion that attending this private institution was beyond their financial capabilities and therefore she had to seek an alternative. With an unwavering determination, Dr. Martinez began taking courses at East Los Angeles Community College and soon after, transferred to California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA), where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in child development. While at CSULA, she was fortunate to be part of a grant program that supported teacher assistants in completing their undergraduate course work. The program was spearheaded by Dr. Leya, who offered her not only financial support but the opportunity to obtain an education that would ultimately lead to a meaningful career. It was Dr. Leyva’s guidance, that gave her the understanding of how important family, social capitol, mentors and community partnerships are to the success of your goals.

After earning her degree, Dr. Martinez was ready to give back to her community and continue creating support systems for all students. According to Dr. Martinez, "believing in all students and understanding that it is the teacher’s role to bring out the best in students," is a crucial component of being a teacher. With the belief that teachers play an irreplaceable role in student success, she has committed to being a role model for young people and shares with them her own challenges and triumphs. Dr. Martinez considers herself a life-long learner. She is a National Board Certified Teacher and throughout her career has built meaningful relationships with families and strong partnerships with community organizations, such as the Geffen Playhouse, The Music Center, The Getty Institute, and Great Minds in STEM™, all with the goal of enhancing her students education.

Dr. Martinez became a champion of Great Minds in STEM™ and the organization’s mission and vision, when a STEM-Up School Ambassador shared with teachers this important message: “There is talent in our neighborhood schools and our students can and will be part of the future Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) work force.” She stood strongly by the notion that as an educator she has the responsibility to create a learning environment that will inspire students to keep America competitive in the STEM fields of study. Dr. Martinez sets goals for her students where the focus is to continue to learn about STEM. She also plans to help facilitate professional development in the next generation of Science Standards for faculty, and design parent/student STEM workshops that promote science based extra-curricular activities. She hopes to be able to provide each participating individual, especially her students, with the needed motivation and tools to succeed as students and as future STEM professionals.

In her spare time, Dr. Martinez enjoys reading, shopping and traveling. Her favorite thing to do is spend time with her family because she firmly believes in the family unit, both professionally, by way of schools, and personally.

View More Educators of the Week