Hey, Cool Mom! With Benita Carmen Cervantes
It’s the final day of Teacher Appreciation Week and I’ve saved the very best for last: an intro to veteran teacher and all-around delight, Benita Carmen Cervantes.
I’ve known “BC” since I was I wee child. She was my next-door neighbor, my older, COOLER, next-door neighbor, ever-patient and understanding of her little sister’s annoying friends, who would often sneak into her bedroom and steal her cassette tapes, raid her Teen Magazines, and, clearly, invade her privacy. I think we knew there was much to learn from this gem of a person.
BC comes from a family of educators- her dad, mom, and sister, my childhood pal, Stephanie, were all teachers! Her husband is in the biz too! In retrospect, it’s no wonder that they were such a cool fam.
Here they are, being cute as ever...
Most of this crew moved to the Denver a while back, in pursuit of, like, fresh air and green space and other things that make me jealous. And there, BC got her start as a teacher in the Denver Public Schools. Almost 20 years later, she’s just transitioned to a role as an Assistant Principal, with the hopes that she can affect more change, do more good, for the kids in her city.
Here’s BC on her new gig and a bunch of other great stuff:
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I'm a mom of three fabulous girls, a wife and educator. I love to cook, read, and browse magazine and Instagram far too much.
2. Describe your family.
My husband JR is an amazing and inspiring high school English teacher, the best dad in the world and a partner I am thankful for every minute of every day. My oldest daughter, Charlotte, is magical. She loves to read, create music (she plays the violin) and be on stage. Her artistic bravery is something I am truly in awe of. My babies, Emilia and Eloise, are 2-year-old dynamos. They were born three months early and have been defying expectations ever since. They are silly, so strong and give amazing hugs (when you can get them to stop moving).
3. What do you do most days?
I am an assistant principal at Edison Elementary in Denver, CO. Then I race home to chat with Charlotte, play with the babes, cook and have a glass of wine or a cocktail with JR.
4. Who/What is inspiring you these days?
I am so inspired by the women, young people, and now teachers who are peacefully standing up and saying enough. Whether it is marching for equality and safety in the work place and in their daily lives, gun safety or fair pay, people being brave enough to take a stand how change begins.
5. Tell us about what it's like teaching in Denver Public Schools?
Teaching in DPS is wonderful & exhausting, inspiring & defeating, joyful & trying. There is nothing like the beauty of seeing a child master something they thought they couldn't do. But, there is also something so humbling about watching a child deal with hardships I can only imagine and not being able to just fix it. It is part of the reason I left the classroom last year to be an assistant principal. I want to being to affect change on a larger scale, to be able to (someday) sit at the table when policy decisions are being made.
6. What books are you reading or wanting to read? Why?
I am just finishing The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It focuses on the time period from Teddy Roosevelt being elected to the end of the Taft administration. Goodwin tells the history through the story of Roosevelt and Taft's friendship and the loss of it and how that effected American politics and life from then on. What I have found so interesting are how progressive that group of Republicans was. I was also so inspired by the life of Ida Tarbell. She was a groundbreaking journalist at Collier's Magazine and covered a lot of the topics that inspired Roosevelt to in-act the progressive agenda she, and her fellow "muckrakers" championed.
I've been listening to Brene Brown's The Power of Vulnerability on Audible. My friend recommended her books to me but listening to her instead of reading it myself has been wonderful. It sounds so cheesy but it really has been life changing. I look at asking for help, being honest in my fears and my strengths and waking up every day with gratefulness as essentials now.
7. What’s your favorite song for 1) a dance party 2) feeling sad
My favorite song for a dance party (today) probably America's Sweetheart by Elle King and for feeling sad it's gotta be That's How I Got to Memphis by Tom T. Hall.
8. What artists or designers do you like?
I am just in love with Christian Siriano at the moment. I love his fairy tale vibe but, more so, I love how he embraced dressing women of all sizes and ran with it. Love his inclusivity. And, Amy Sherald, Michelle Obama's portrait artist. Wow. I mean...wow.
9. What clothes are making you feel good?
After the twins, high-waisted jeans are my new favorite. I never would have worn them before but they are a must now. I am currently on the hunt for the perfect black tank top. Banana Republic used to make the perfect one but they stopped. I have one left and I cherish it. My two other absolute favorites are my two jumpsuits. I can't wear them to work but every time I put them on I feel relaxed but still pulled together and chic. I wore them like crazy last summer and plan to, again this summer. I am looking for one that is work appropriate but the only ones I've found are not budget friendly.
Thanks so much BC!
I mean, really, THANK YOU.... for your passion, your lifelong commitment to our kids. I have a feeling you’ll be at that table one day, continuing to fight for their futures.
You may not hear it very often so listen up!
We appreciate you.
And at the very LEAST, we know you deserve to find that perfect black tank top. Mom, help a teacher out! Where should she look?