Like so many students, Martha H. is heading back to school.
For this mother of three, returning to the classroom is the last stage of a long journey. For the past 13 years, fired by passion and determination, Martha has been diligently working toward a long-held dream: becoming a preschool teacher.
She credits the King County Library System for the resources and continuing support that paved the path to her success. Martha is just two courses away from earning an Associate in Arts Degree in Early Childhood Education from Bellevue College.
“I am deeply grateful to KCLS because it has been the key to starting this beautiful dream of mine,” Martha said. “I am about to finish this stage of my education and fulfill my most cherished dream–graduation as a teacher of young children! KCLS libraries have continued to be part of my support. They have been essential; they have wonderfully changed my life.”
Martha’s academic journey began before she arrived in the U.S. in 2003. She had been happy in Guadalajara, Mexico, where she was a painter who taught art, and who worked in a local museum.
“When I came here, I had the dream to be a teacher one day,” she said. “I love and enjoy working with kids. I wished again to work with people and my community.”
She moved from Missouri to Washington State in 2005, arriving in Bellevue the next year. In 2009, Martha began attending KCLS’ Fiestas early literacy program in Spanish with her daughter, then three years old. The program offered a cultural and linguistic bridge, fostering a sense of belonging. Visiting the library regularly also connected Martha with resources and expanded her sense of possibility.
As her family grew, she insisted they all learn English. Helped by KCLS, she proved a good student. She also found scholarship help, enabling her to stay on track. Martha’s kids also took full advantage of their local libraries–Bellevue, Lake Hills and Crossroads. Her eldest daughter, now 16, her son, age 12 and youngest daughter, 11, still visit libraries regularly, studying and using computers, often alongside their mom.
“There has always been the opportunity to find something engaging, educational and helpful for my children,” Martha said. The family also had a lot of fun together, attending workshops, making crafts, and checking out books and movies. They also got free tickets through KCLS to visit local art museums, the KidsQuest Children’s Museum, MoPop, Seattle Aquarium and the Museum of Flight.
One day in 2017, Martha read about free high school classes for adults in Spanish.
“This wonderful dream began when I found that invitation (the class), that opened the door to a world of education with a thousand possibilities,” Martha said. She registered, and spent hours at the Bellevue Library, supported by staff “who inspired me to continue studying. The staff of that library was always very attentive in supporting us students.”
She graduated the next year. When Martha learned the college had a pathway to her chosen teaching career, she took another step: technology literacy. Helped by a scholarship, she became a business technology specialist and office assistant.
In 2019, Martha enrolled in Bellevue College’s AAS-T Early Childhood Education program, continuing to lean on KCLS for books, materials, support and spaces to study.
When COVID hit, Martha and the kids stayed connected to KCLS, attending online programs. The Library System, she says, has made her believe in broader opportunities–for her and her kids.
“I have nearly finished a really hard thing,” she said. “I am really curious, and I’ve learned to listen. I’m always positive and I never, ever lost focus.”
But, she said she could not have done it without the King County Library System.
“My story with KCLS is beautiful, and I am full of gratitude,” she said. “My dream is about to come true. Yes we can! Si se puede!”