A teacher at heart

Ricardo+stands+by+the+printers+she+uses+to+make+copies+for+other+staff+members.+A+couple+times+a+week%2C+she+is+assisted+by+a+group+of+MVHS%E2%80%99+special+needs+students.+Photo+taken+by+Anjali+Bhat.

Ricardo stands by the printers she uses to make copies for other staff members. A couple times a week, she is assisted by a group of MVHS’ special needs students. Photo taken by Anjali Bhat.

Anjali Bhat

Print center staff member Maria Ricardo shares lifelong passion for education and community service.

It’s 1965. An eight year old girl is in her room in a modest little house in Portugal, but she’s not alone. She smiles at the class in front of her –– a circle of dolls in little chairs. She is eager to educate her students in the most fascinating subjects of science, mathematics, history and language.

As a child, print center manager Maria Ricardo loved to help people learn. She wanted nothing more than to be a teacher when she grew up. At the age of eighteen, she arrived in the United States with little knowledge of English. She decided it was no longer plausible to be a teacher, so she entered the electronics industry instead.

Now, she works in the print center at MVHS. According to Ricardo, her job here is the closest she’d ever get to being a teacher –– but in reality, Ricardo continues to guide others. She teaches a group of special needs students three times a week.

“The students come in here and learn how to use the equipment. They make copies, use the cutting machine and do the binding,” Ricardo said. “They learn how to work in a print center. The idea behind it is that in the future, some of the students will be able to live here and find a job, like at a Kinko’s or a Staples.”

Ricardo was so excited to be able to work with the kids that she made personalized name tags and progress charts for each individual student. She encourages them to wear their badges with pride and check off boxes on the charts every time they have acquired a new skill.
“It’s rewarding to see how much they’ve learned,” Ricardo said. “It’s a good experience. For them and for me.”

When she is not at school, Ricardo continues to teach the Portuguese-American community. She is passionate about educating her peers about civics and the role they play in the government. As a coordinator for a project called the Portuguese American Citizenship Project, Ricardo and encourages people who are not American to become citizens and to vote.

Ricardo has volunteered with the nonprofit organization for over 15 years and is now vice-chair of the Santa Clara committee. She plans and moderates the organization’s bi-annual Candidates’ Night, in which candidates for the city council are invited to speak in a forum and answer questions from the public. Ricardo believes that the event educates voters and allows them to make informed decisions for the larger community.

She helps to publicize the event by creating flyers, programs and tickets –– often all on her own. Ricardo is self-taught in graphic design, and besides experimenting with design software in her own time, she volunteers to make promotional material for events in the community and at church. She reads voraciously about design and is both a teacher and a student.

“I love to learn,” Ricardo said. “If you study hard, nobody can take that away from you. It’s the best thing you can do for yourself. I’m always looking to learn new things.”

 

Ricardo stands by the printers she uses to make copies for other staff members. A couple times a week, she is assisted by a group of MVHS’ special needs students. Photo taken by Anjali Bhat.
Ricardo stands by the printers she uses to make copies for other staff members. A couple times a week, she is assisted by a group of MVHS’ special needs students. Photo taken by Anjali Bhat.