Shared from the 1/7/2023 Laredo Morning Times eEdition



Sandra Cavazos Ayala is a retired educator who has found in this new phase of her life that she is capable of writing and creating art. She has been attending poetry workshops at the Joe A. Guerra Laredo Public Library and recently wrote the poem “Mi Cafecito” which it will be now displayed permanently in the library. Cavazos Ayala gave an exclusive interview to Avenida 35 where she talks about her origins, how she got interested in poetry and what inspired her to create her poems.

MC: Who is Sandra Cavazos Ayala?

SCA: I am a Laredo native, the second sibling born to Arturo and Olga Cavazos. I was raised to respect and understand the importance of a good education. During my high school years, I always knew that I wanted to make a difference in the life of a child and with the support of my parents, I was the only one in the family to attend college and receive numerous degrees.

Upon graduating from J.W. Nixon High School in 1974, I attended Laredo Junior College, receiving an Associate of Arts Degree in May 1976. In August 1977, I graduated from East Texas State University, with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education and at the age of 21, I began my Professional Career as a First Grade Teacher at Daiches Elementary School with the Laredo Independent School District.

In August 1982, I earned a Master of Science in Education Degree with a major in Bilingual Education and minor in Spanish from Laredo State University. That same year, I began a career at United Independent School District.

After a 35-year career in the Business of Education, I retired from United Independent School District in June 2011, where I held the position as Executive Director for Student Services Department.

After retirement from United ISD, I was hired as the Executive Director at the Imaginarium of South Texas children’s museum where I worked for 8 years and re-retired in October of 2019.

I have also been a member of several professional associations which include Phi Delta Kappa, Alpha Delta Kappa, Friends of the Library, Literacy Volunteers of Laredo, Crime Stoppers, Member of Texas Gang Investigators Association, Amistad Reading Council-President, Texas State Reading Association, and the International Reading Association.

Because “Reading” is one of my passions, I also serve as a Board member for the City of Laredo Public Library Advisory Board since 2006 when I was appointed by Mayor Salinas. In 2014, I was reappointed by Mayor Pete Saenz to represent him thus granting me the opportunity to serve my community and help promote literacy for 16 years.

I was also a member of Women’s City Club, the United ISD Citizen’s Advisory Committee, Texas A&M International University College of Education Advisory Member, and member of the Veterans Treatment program Advisory Board and recently appointed as member of the Laredo Commission for Women representing District 6.

I am married to Samuel Ayala and together we have a beautiful family including 2 gorgeous 7-year-old grandchildren, Heidi, and Rodrigo!

MC: How did you become interested in poetry?

SCA: As an educator and Reading Specialist I have always enjoyed children’s literature, poetry, and the teaching of literacy to young children.

In school, my favorite poem was “The Village Blacksmith” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

But my inspiration to even think of writing a poem came from my friend and Poet Laureate, Rosa Maria Ceballos De Llano. After attending a couple of her Calaveras Workshops, one day I finally got the courage to write.

MC: How did it feel to write your first poem?

SCA: It’s hard to explain but the first poem I wrote came from deep in my heart for my cousin Hector, who had just passed away a few days before the workshop. I was at her workshop and as Rosa Maria was talking about rhyming, four verses, Spanglish and so on…, I began to write about my memories of my cousin as a child.

I remember calling Rosa Maria a couple of days later when I finished the poem to get her feedback and she loved it and said she was so proud of me! I was so honored to read my first poem at the funeral for my family.

And I guess that was when I realized it was possible to write poetry when it comes from your heart.

MC: What challenges did you have to overcome when writing poems?

SCA: Can you imagine, I thought to myself, at my age, I was finally able to write a poem, something that I never did as a child. I was astonished and was reminded that now that I am retired I could pretty much do anything my heart desires.

I cannot thank Rosa Maria enough for being such as great teacher and inspiration to so many students young and old.

MC: How did the idea or inspiration for the poem “Mi cafecito” come about?

SCA: “Mi Cafecito” was the second poem I wrote.

We were spending the weekend at our beach house in Aransas Pass and one morning as it is a customary morning ritual for us, my husband Sam asked me, “Buenos días, ¿ya quieres tu cafecito, mi amor?” (Good morning, you want your coffee, my love?). I quickly answered, “¡Sí, para empezar mi día con alegría!” (Yes, to start my day with joy!”)

And wow!!! I began to write, and I couldn’t stop. What was amazing to me was that my poem was in Spanish! My thoughts, rhyming words, and ideas about cafecitos all came from my deep family cultural upbringing. And that day, “Mi Cafecito” was created!

Again, I called Rosa Maria because I was so excited about my poem!

She really liked my poem and was so excited, she told me “You are a great student and I feel so much gratification because I inspired you to write!” She was my “Mama Poet”!!

I also want to thank Dr. Maria Alma Gonzalez Perez (Del Alma Publications, LLC) for reading and editing “El Cafecito”.

MC: How did you decide to print it on a poster and donate it to the library?

SCA: At one of our Library Advisory meetings, I thanked Rosa Maria for the fantastic workshops she provides for our community, her dedication, and love for poetry.

I read “Mi Cafecito” to the committee, and they loved it. The Library Advisory Committee also applauds Rosa Maria for the countless volunteer hours she contributes to make the workshops happen. I decided to donate a poster size copy of “Mi Cafecito” to put up the Joe Guerra Public Library Coffee nook and dedicate it to Rosa Maria!

MC: What are the satisfactions that you have had when dabbling in poetry?

SCA: I want to convey to everyone that retirement can be great! Only you can make the best of your retirement years with the grace of God. I was blessed to be able to go to work and do what I loved to do for 42 years and was blessed to work with so many amazing individuals.

Now that I’m retired, I have more time enjoying family, friends, and countless rewarding opportunities. I continue to volunteer and support community, education, and schools with much enthusiasm and happiness.

MC. Anything else you want to add?

SCA: I would like to encourage everyone, young and old to make the best of life no matter what life brings us. If we think positive and believe that God is with us always, we can live a blessed rewarding life.

One of my goals is to continue to complete my Bucket-list. Just last month I scratched off “Christmas Caroling” which was something I had always desired to do.

I’m happy to say that I’m enjoying traveling, writing poems and short stories (whenever my heart directs me). I also enjoy painting, something that I had never dreamed of doing.

One of my favorite interests is spending time at the coast fishing with my husband, family, and friends.

See this article in the e-Edition Here
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