PHOTO: After a difficult upbringing in Cuba, Andres Pazos became a paraeducator to continue his passion for education.
By Lynsey Hsieh,
Paraeducator Andres Pazos, 73, was born in Cuba and lived through some pivotal historical events. His knowledge and experience make him an invaluable resource for students and teachers alike when he works in the classroom.
Pazos was only a child when the Cuban revolution triumphed in 1959 and was in high school when the Missile Crisis occurred in 1962. His neighbors were armed to resist what was considered an impending American invasion.
Pazos later finished school and went to a pedagogical institute for foreign languages to become a teacher and started working in a language school for adults.
Wendy Pazos, Andres’ daughter, was born in Cuba when the Soviet Union still existed. After the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Cuba began a new government, the Special Period in Times of Peace. During this time the economic conditions were harsh, there was an extreme scarcity of food, and everyday cuts of electricity lasted for eight hours.
During those times, Andres always tried to keep a semblance of normality. He would take Wendy and her brother to the dining hall at the University of Havana where food was always available.
“That is what I most admire of my dad– his responsibility and love as a father,” Wendy said.
When Andres came to the U.S. with his daughter, he had hopes to continue his teaching profession. He was told of the possibility of becoming a paraeducator, but he would first have to complete his teaching credentials in the U.S.
Andres has a huge passion for education, as he finds it rewarding to watch his students grow. “It’s very gratifying, you can see how they have grown as people. […] I love my job because of that, because of the kids,” Andres said.
The most challenging experience Andres has had as a paraeducator was helping students in math. The subject has never been a strong suit.
“In a way I was learning at the same time that my students were learning or it’s refreshing since I’ve taken this class before, but when I was younger, much younger, and you forget things,” Andres said.
Andres has both a master’s degree in teaching English as a second language and Marxism-Leninism Philosophy from the University of Havana.