“They say education is expensive but it is more expensive not to have an education” – Luis Santiago Pat Fernández.
Born a Teacher
Luis Santiago Pat Fernández was 22 years old when he began his life in public education.
“My father was a teacher, he’s now retired. We’re all teachers in my family. We’re 7 siblings dedicated to this profession”, he tells us.
Luis Santiago graduated in Public Education. He has been a teacher for 25 years (currently teaching in the mornings at Jaime Torres Bodet primary school) and for the last 14 years has been the afternoon director at public primary school Gregoria Cob Cob.
The KKIS Team met Luis Santiago two years ago when we began donating school supplies to Gregoria Cob Cob, in Playa del Carmen’s Colosio neighborhood.
How do you do it!?
Compared to public schools in the USA which have an average class size of 20 to 25 students, teachers in Mexico have between 30 to 35 students per class and schools operate two shifts each run by a different director.
“The schools [here] have been around for a long time. [At Gregoria Cob Cob], there are more than a thousand kids using the same desks every day.” It is one of the largest schools in Playa with 16 classrooms operating in the morning and 15 classrooms filled in the afternoon.
“When people from other countries visit us, they all wonder how we manage to have so many kids in a classroom. Fortunately, we have well-behaved children who want to learn and who respect teachers. Teachers are also used to handling these groups”, Luis Santiago tells us.
Luis Santiago is being modest. The students at Gregoria Cob Cob are indeed among the most well-behaved primary school students that KKIS has encountered, but we believe it is down to the example he sets with his teachers, the students and their parents. He is kind and patient and seems to know all the students by name.
“My goal is to raise champions”
“I believe that education is the only door that will open many options to choose from, instead of going where life takes you. If you study, if you learn, you can choose, and that’s very important”, he said.
Besides being a teacher and a principal, Luis Santiago is the proud father of three kids.
“I have a 22 year old son who, by the way, studied his entire primary school here. He just got his Dentist degree. I also have two little girls, one in 5th grade and the other in 7th grade”, he explains proudly.
“I was my oldest daughter’s teacher in 6th grade because they grow too fast and I didn’t want to miss that. In fact, I was her teacher in 1st and 2nd grade, too. I taught her how to read and write”, he added.
Parents Role in Education
Luis Santiago considers family the most important aspect of a child’s development. We asked what he tells parents when he meets with them.
“Support your children, because this is something that our society needs. Prepare your kids to overcome this time we live in; so they don’t fall while pursuing their goals in life. It is imperative that they grow with their parents on their side… raise them to be good people”.
Before our conversation with Luis Santiago came to an end, he paused and reflected: “They say education is expensive but is more expensive not to have an education”.
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