kayaking in surf
Mrs. Cates-Meraz

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Mrs. Cates-Meraz

My friends would describe me as helpful, determined, and friendly. I would add health conscious and active to that description, because you have to be healthy to give your best. Not only am I an educator, but I’m the mother of three children, and have a variety of hobbies ranging from outdoor to indoor activities. There’s certainly not much that I will back down from, and I appreciate the challenge of learning new skills. 

Growing up on the small island of St. Croix in the United States Virgin Islands is the primary experience that shaped who I am. Our small schools were beautifully unique but had limited resources which spurred our teachers to be creative in their instruction. As many of them had been in the Peace Corps and traveled extensively, our teachers brought the world into our classrooms, often sharing their life experiences. In addition to the global awareness encouraged at school, our community was often described as a melting pot of cultures. Native islanders were called Cruzans, but our island also had West Indians, Puerto Ricans, Filipinos, Indians, Middle Easterners, Europeans, and US citizens.

The island was home to the very rich and the very poor; we had a castle” on one end of the island, but would pass “shanty town” to get there. Some of my friends lived on old sugar cane plantations nestled in the rain forest, while others lived in corporate housing developments. We entertained ourselves with snorkeling, diving, fishing, hiking, sailing and horseback riding. During the holidays and special occasions you would hear the sweet sound of steel pans and watch the colorful moko jumbies ward off evil spirits. Island food and grocery stores were an adventure of their own, including callaloo, johnnycake, roti, pate,conch, salt fish, and ginger beer.

In the fall of 1989, when I was a senior in high school, the course of my life suddenly changed. Hurricane Hugo devastated the island of St. Croix, destroyed our home, and changed my story. The island appeared as though it has been in a nuclear holocaust and would take years to recover. We uprooted and landed in Alvin, Texas, a small town where my dad could find employment and my mom could get medical care. I graduated from Alvin High School, an experience that challenged my world-view values. However, it did expose me to things I would have never experienced on the island (like Texas high school football, homecoming, and graduating classes bigger than 30).

Upon high school graduation, I attended Texas A&M in College Station, but discovered it wasn't a good fit for me. The massive campus and student body size was overwhelming and distracting. Following my intuition, I enrolled at a community college and then finished my BS at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The lifestyle in Corpus reminded me of my island life, also offering family roots because it was my birth place. After graduation and student teaching, I found my way back to Brazoria County and began my teaching career at Clute Intermediate School. It was during my years at Clute that my principal recognized my technology skills and vigorously encouraged me to get my Master’s Degree in Instructional Technology. I graduated with my Master's Degree from UNT in August 2006. 

I've been teaching since 1997, my career began as a middle level science teacher for eight years, a high school technology teacher for seven, a return to middle level technology teacher for two years, and finally landed here in Pearland ISD at Glenda Dawson HS in 2015. I love the diversity of this campus and the overall work ethic of the students. I find them to be engaging, driven, and open to new ideas and concepts; being part of the Dawson family has renewed my passion for teaching and learning. 

Kids in Puerto Rico