PLANT CITY – Award-winning preschool teacher Adelita Trevino can probably understand her students at Redlands Christian Migrant Association more than they can ever imagine.
That’s because Trevino, 54, was herself a daughter of harvest workers and also had to travel through several states with her parents and work to help her family as a child.
She was recently recognized by RCMA for 30 years of service, including more than 20 years at the association’s Children Development Center in Plant City.
Trevino recalled her decision to go to work for Redlands after she grew weary of traveling to harvest crops.
Twice named the teacher of the year by the Hillsbororough County Early Childhood Association, she first went to work for Redlands in 1979 but had a break in service before returning in 1984.
And although Trevino worked during the harvesting season as a child, she remembered how valuable education was to her.
Trevino said her parents always worked as pickers because they didn’t speak English, even though they were born in Arlington, Texas.
“My parents traveled throughout the North and learned some English when they started staying here in the South,” Trevino said.
Trevino, the third of eight children, said she attended school two or three days a week. She picked crops alongside her mother the other days.
“Since the age of 3 years I had that job, with my mom,” Trevino said. “She put me in the groves and I pick and pick. When I went to the 12th grade I wanted to quit school because my mom and my dad had divorced. Things were difficult, but my mom would not let me because I only was missing three months before I would graduate.” She was the only one in her family who finished high school. In 1977, the day of her graduation at East Bay High School, Trevino had a bittersweet feeling. On one hand, she had a great happiness on finishing her studies, but on the other a great sadness because she could not celebrate the triumph.
“I was sad because friends wanted to invite me to dinner, but I had to leave that night for North Carolina. I took off my cap and my gown and went to work. We had to go to the tobacco fields.”
She said she helped her mom care for her younger siblings, which set her on her career path.
“I think that’s what really helped me with patience with children,” Trevino said.
She has no children, but treats her students as if they were her own.
Trevino earned her preschool child development associate degree while working with RCMA.
The teacher said that the children spend more hours with the teachers than with their parents, and it is difficult to say goodbye to the students. She recommends that parents spend time with their children, even if they are tired after a hard day’s work.
“If you are a parent read to your children. In the future, they will also read to their children,” Trevino said. “If you are a parent, play with your children, your children will play with their children as well.”