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‘DACAmented’ teachers worry about their future

Posted on February 27, 2017 // KIPP Aspire Academy, KIPP Camino Academy, KIPP Esperanza, KIPP Poder, KIPP Un Mundo, KIPP University Prep,

By Silvia Foster-Frau, San Antonio Express-News Staff Writer | February 26, 2017 | Photo By Billy Calzada, San Antonio Express-News

Maria Rocha will never forget what a tourist from the Midwest told her younger self at Market Square a decade ago.

Rocha was reading her college textbook while minding the bracelet stand where she worked. Just on the other side of the square, her father was at Mi Tierra, playing guitar for tips.

“She asked me what I was studying and I told her I wanted to be a bilingual teacher. And her words were, ‘Go back to your country. Go back to your country and teach your language over there,’” said Rocha, her voice breaking and eyes watering as she recounted the old story that is still fresh in her mind. “I’m a person to stay quiet, especially at that time. I wasn’t vocal the way I am now. But that just … that turned up the notch.”

The moment broke a little part of her but it was also a breaking point — in the kind of treatment she would and would not accept from others. More than ten years later, 29-year-old Rocha is a bilingual teacher at KIPP Esperanza Dual Language Academy. She is undocumented, but is legally teaching at the school through Teach for America’s program that actively recruits Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals who have an employment authorization document.

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