NEA HC- EXECUTIVE OFFICERS
María Helena Cantú-Clair – Hispanic Caucus Chair
Las Vegas, Nevada
“Thank you for allowing me to serve as the NEA Hispanic Caucus Chair for the past 4 years. It has been a pleasure to serve you; the members of the NEA Hispanic Caucus.”
I was born and raised in Mercedes, Texas. Yes, I am a native Texan! Mercedes is located near the Mexican border approximately 8 miles to the first border town of Las Flores, Mexico sometimes referred to as Nuevo Progresso, Mexico. Mercedes is known as the heart of the Rio Grande Valley because it is located in the center of two of the best-known major border towns, Brownsville and McAllen, Texas. My family is of Mexican and Spanish ancestry. I am the youngest of seven children. I am the first and only child in both of my parent’s family to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree, multiple Master’s Degrees, and am in my 3rd year of work towards a Doctoral Degree. My father attended elementary school through the 6th grade and my mother attended up to 2nd grade. After my father served in WWII as a chef in the US Navy, my parents became Mexican Restaurant business owners. My parents taught me the value of an education at a very young age. I learned to read and write at the age of 4 in my own native language – Spanish. I am one of those students you read about who used to be hit, or punished in school for speaking Spanish. It is well documented in the annuals of Texas history. I know what it is like to be in a segregated classroom, gymnasium, and business. I was raised to believe and know that hard work and going to school would be the key to a better life. I knew from the time I started Kindergarten that I would go to College because it was what my father would tell me each time I brought my report card home.
I attended the University of Texas Pan American in Edinburg, Texas for 2 years. I transferred to Texas Women’s University after having been recruited and awarded a scholarship. I graduated with my Bachelors Degree from Texas Women’s University in Denton, Texas and did my student teaching in Fort Worth Public School District. I am one of the original Bi Lingual Bi-Cultural Educator Corp of America (BECA) students from the great state of Texas during the great migration of Spanish Speakers in urban school districts. I graduated in 1972. I am one of the original life credentialed teachers in Bilingual Bicultural Education from the state of Texas and California. I have two Masters Degrees from the University of La Verne in La Verne, California. I have been an educator for 41 years. I have taught all subjects in each of the grade levels, Kindergarten through 12th grade. I hold five teaching credentials (endorsements) in three states. I retired from the State of California after having taught for 33 years. Currently, I am a Spanish for Spanish Speakers instructor at the largest Magnet High School in Las Vegas, Nevada. Rancho High School is known for its Medical and Aviation Program. Rancho is one of NEA’s Priority Schools. This next year will be my 9th year of teaching in Las Vegas, Nevada.
I have been happily married for 41 years. My husband is a retired California Highway Patrol Sergeant. I am the mother of seven children, six daughters and one son. My oldest 3 daughters are educators. My oldest lives in Ohio, my second daughter is an Elementary School Principal in CA., and my third daughter is a Resource/Counselor/Psychologist in CA., my fourth daughter is a California Highway Patrol Public Affairs Officer in San Diego, my fifth daughter is a Labor Law Attorney in Beverly Hills, California, my sixth daughter is a Manufacturing Systems and Compliance Manager for Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colorado. My son is a Senior at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. I am a very happy and blessed grandmother to nine grandchildren, four grandsons and five granddaughters.
I am a member of Clark County Education Association –C.C.E.A. located in Las Vegas and the largest local education association in the entire state of Nevada. I served on the C.C.E.A. Executive Board of Directors and on the Clark County School District Curriculum and Professional Development Committee.
I have been a dedicated and committed member of CCEA. I am actively involved in the CCEA Scholarship Committee, Ethnic and Minority Affairs Committee, School Safety Committee, CCEA Hispanic Caucus, Co- Chair of the By Laws Committee, School Building Representative, School Site Teacher Advisory Council and Teaching and Learning Conditions Committee.
I am a member of the Nevada State Education Association Board of Directors. I serve on the Professional Development Committee. I have attended the Summer Leadership Training Sessions and Delegate Assembly. I was the Co-Chair to the Nevada State Board of Education Parental Involvement Commission appointed by State Superintendent of Education, Keith Rheault.
Currently, I am the NEA Hispanic Caucus Chair and NEA EMAC Co-Chair. I served as the NEA Pacific Region Hispanic Caucus Director. I am a member of the NEA ELL Trainer of Trainers Cadre, and have attended NEA RA’s for the past 6 years. I have also been a NEA RA State Contact the past 6 years. I have participated in several Minority Leadership Training workshops through CCEA, NSEA, and NEA. I have served as the NEA Pacific Region ELL Caucus Director.
I have been a dedicated member of NEA since 1972. I was a member of California Teachers Association (CTA) for 33 years and was also an active officer and member in all of my CA. local affiliates. I am active CTA Retired.
Gladys F. Marquez- Hispanic Caucus Vice-Chair
IEA-Illinois Education Association
- IEA Local 218 Building Representative
- IEA Region 28 Ethnic Minority Representative
- IEA-Human & Civil Rights Committee
- IEA-Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee (EMAC)
- IEA-Resolutions Committee
- IEA-Steering Committee
- NEA-Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee
- NEA-Hispanic Caucus Midwest Regional Director (2009)
- NEA-Hispanic Caucus Secretary (2010-2013)
- NEA-Resolutions Committee Member (2009-Present)
- NEA-Social Justice Dialogue (2012)
- NEA- Leadership Advisory Committee (2013)
- NEA-MLTP Cadre Trainer (2012-Present)
- B.A. in Elementary: All subjects
- B.A. in Secondary Education with a concentration in English, Reading, and Bio-Chemistry
- M.A. in Curriculum, Instruction, and Evaluation
- M.A. in School Administration
- Ed. D. Educational Law
I have taught in various academic settings in both the elementary and secondary levels. My areas of expertise include but is not limited to Dual Language, SIOP, ELL, self-contained bilingual, reading, English, and integrated sciences.
I am of Hispanic ancestry. I was born and raised in Blue Island, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. I grew up in a traditional Hispanic household in which Spanish was the primary language. I have 5 brothers and 6 sisters, and many nieces and nephews.
I am blessed with 4 wonderful sons. My eldest son will soon join the teaching ranks as a secondary English teacher and reading specialist; my second oldest is a licensed paramedic and medical student working towards a Doctorate in Anesthesiology; My second youngest is a senior in high school with plans on becoming a Neo-Natal Specialist; and my youngest son is a mere 2 years old with a promising future ahead of him.
As a child, I remember my grandfather telling us stories of how we came to live in this great nation. My grandfather was fortunate to secure a position as a railroad worker on the Rock Island in the 1950’s. He worked as a migrant worker for 10 years before he was able to bring the entire family from, Zacatecas, Mexico in the 1960’s. My mother, then 13, explained how she struggled to understand the new language and culture. She talked about “not fitting in” and” feeling awkward and out of place.” She spoke about teachers not taking the time to teach her the language and her own feelings of inadequacy. She, like thousands of other immigrant students, decided to opt out of school and into the labor force taking a minimum wage factory job at the local steel mill, a trend I still see today. These discussions would fill me with sadness. How could my mother feel out of place? How could someone not appreciate her talent and her desire to learn? and most importantly…what was so wrong with our educational system that it would allow thousands of immigrant students to fall through the cracks? These questions would become my life’s passion. Today I look for the answer to these questions in the students I teacher. I work to help motivate, educate, and develop the skills and self-discipline necessary to fight for their futures. Cultural appreciation is the driving force behind these efforts. They know that if they believe in themselves, their heritage, and who they are, they can achieve that which they aspire to become. My students know that, for me, college is not an unattainable dream but an expectation to be achieved.
I love what I do and work to make a difference in the life of every child who steps foot in my classroom. I change the world one child at a time. I am a teacher.
Together we can make a difference!
Please feel free to contact me with any questions. I am always ready and willing to listen.
Personal Highlights I’d like to share:
I am of Hispanic ancestry, born in Taos, New Mexico and raised in the San Luis Valley in Southern Colorado. I grew up bilingual in a traditional New Mexican home. Although I do not have children of my own, I have 15 brothers and sisters and have helped raise more than 80-90 nieces/nephews, as well as supporting school parents and their children for the past 14 years.
I have been an association member throughout my educational career. Positions I’ve held and hold at the local level in my current and past district are; building AR, Bilingual Rep on Executive Board, Negotiations Team, Election Chair, Membership Committee and EMAC Core Committee Member. At the state level I have served on the Election Committee. On the national level I am a graduate of the NEA Emerging Leader Academy, past NEA Hispanic Caucus Western Regional Director, NEA Hispanic Caucus Liaison to the Women’s Caucus Steering Committee, NEA Diversity Cadre Trainer, NEA ELL Cadre Trainer and the current NEA Hispanic Caucus Treasurer.
Career Highlights I’d like to share:
I received my undergraduate degree from Adams State College in Alamosa, Colorado and Masters’ Degree from the University of Colorado at Denver, in Linguistically and Diverse Education with Bilingual and ESL endorsements. My passion and commitment in my educational career has been in working with all students but specifically with the EL population. Advocating/supporting students, parents and teachers in the educational and political arenas has always been part of my work. Having served as a past President, Treasurer and Keynote/Entertainment Director for the Colorado Association for Bilingual Education (CABE) has helped me network with great people who help me do this work.
NEA Board of Directors– 1999 to 2005
Pacific Regional Co-Chair—2004
Pacific Regional Vice Chair—2003
NEA Representative Assembly State Contact
NEA Representative Assembly—24 years
CTA Board of Directors—2005 to present
Curriculum and Instruction Committee Board Liaison
Legislative Subcommittee of Curriculum & Instruction –9 years
Vice Chair of the CTA Hispanic Caucus
CTA EMAC member
Summer Institute Committee Board Liaison
Urban Issues Conference Planning Committee
Intern Selection Committee
Vendor Evaluation Committee
Good Teaching Conference Planning Committee Board Liaison
CTA Combined Workgroup on Accountability and Testing
NEA Fund for Children and Public Education
Legislative Contact: Assembly, State Senate and Congressional
QEIA Workgroup Board Liaison
CTA Workgroup on Teacher Evaluation Board Liaison
CTA President’s Conference Planning Committee
CTA Board Training and Development Committee Vice-Chair
CTA Foundation for Teaching and Learning Committee and CTA Board Liaison
Recipient of the Local and State Ted Bass Memorial “Teacher in Politics” Awards
Member of UTLA for 37 years ● Born, Montebello, California
UTLA Board of Directors ● Bilingual: English/Spanish
Member of UTLA/NEA Board of Directors
UTLA House of Representatives Member EDUCATION
UTLA PACE (Political Action Committee) member ● El Rancho High School, Diploma
UTLA PACE Vice-Chair and Chair ● UCLA: Bachelor of Arts, Sociology
Building Rep (UTLA Chapter Chair): First Street Elementary ● UCLA: California Teaching Credential
UTLA Chicano/Latino Education Committee Chair ● CSULA: Master of Arts, Education K-8
Committee to Develop UTLA/LAUSD PAR Guidelines ● BCLAD in Spanish