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Monica Puig on Mentorship and her Tennis Journey | The Players’ Tribune

– Hi, my name is Monica Puig. We are here in St. Thomas the Apostle, which is where I came to school from third grade to fifth grade. This place has held so
many great memories for me, really helped shape me as a person, and kind of gave me the
pathway to my career, thanks to some really amazing people. [Upbeat music] I formed a lot of really strong bonds and connections with a lot of the staff and the faculty here. Two very important people in particular: one was my third grade
teacher, Miss Figueredo, and the principal at
the time, Miss Baldor. They really helped me grow and develop as a young woman, and pretty much helped push me towards my dreams and
accomplishing my goals. The discipline that I learned from her, all of the things that I
needed to do in the class. To keep up – No. 1 – with the class, because I was gone for
tournaments or practices, and there was no sort
of special treatment. She treated me the same as she would treat every other student, which
I think is very important. – I was strict, but at the same time, I was
pushing her and guiding her in that way by making sure that everything that she had to complete
academically, was completed. Because that’s what I
could control on my end, so I wanted her to succeed. Miss Figueredo was hard on her and I’m so grateful because I want you to do well in tennis, but also at academics. – It’s the type of teacher and role model that a lot of, hopefully, the
students look up to nowadays. You wouldn’t wanna have it any other way. I have an older brother, by three years. His school was a little bit
further away than I was, so I would always get dropped off first. So that meant that I
would wait in the hallway. And Miss Baldor, I used to sit right next to her door in the hallway. – Usually I arrived before
the custodial staff, and one day I heard a thump
outside of my classroom. I opened the door and there’s Monica, with her backpack. “Good morning, Monica, how are you?” “Here I am, Miss Baldor.” “What are you doing here?” “Well, my mom dropped me
off because my brother had to go to school.” I said, “O.K., I’m gonna
leave the door open.” And that relationship began to take off for the next three years. – Every morning she will
say, “Mom, it’s O.K., leave me at 6:30.” I couldn’t understand why. I started understanding the talks that she had with Miss Baldor, that she was there always for her. She needed somebody to listen to her and to be there with
a smile every morning. Now I look back and I see
that that friendship grew. – When you begin to get
to know a young child that has a dream, you
have, as an educator, a grave responsibility
to mold that person, to guide that person for the future. – She is somebody who
is still very special to me in my life. The fact that she also
encouraged my parents to help me pursue this
dream, it made a difference, because I think that was the first step towards all the success that I’ve had. It was really the first
stepping stone to get there. – In fifth grade her demands became very challenging for her. The training was longer, the school was more rigorous for her. The conversations began:
What is her next step? And the next step was homeschool. – Homeschooling, you
didn’t hear about that. So it was hard. My family
didn’t support us at that time. The only thing that really convinced us was that we will never know
if we didn’t pursue that. And she always said, “Look,
she can always come back.” We took her advice and we
have never looked back. – The moments that are
impacting in an educator’s life is when you don’t know when you’re going to touch someone’s life. Monica taught me to
always listen to a child. They have so much to say. And in the midst of that,
to be able to guide them, maybe, perhaps, you touch their lives. – Monica taught me
dedication, perseverance, and being able to be flexible. – One thing that has
always been set in stone is, with Miss Baldor and Miss Figueredo, if it wasn’t for them and
what they did to help me become the person that I am today, none of this would have
ever been possible. So, I owe them so much
and I am forever grateful. Hi, I’m Monica Puig and I’m
here because of my teachers, Miss Figueredo and Miss Baldor.

David Frank



  1. FROM DA AREA Posted on July 10, 2019 at 2:43 pm

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  2. Semi Posted on July 13, 2019 at 8:33 pm

    Great teachers have such a huge impact on successful people's lives. I wish we valued teachers more monetarily and as a profession in general. University professors are respected, but they are receiving students who are already 90% developed. University professors are just adding finishing touches while elementary and secondary school teachers built the solid foundations.

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