Matilde B. Sanchez arrived in the United States this past March. She came to Cut Bank to continue a teaching career she had established in the Philippines for the past 24 years.
Her late husband was her biggest fan and wanted her to experience the culture of America and to spend time teaching in what she terms, one of the world’s “super power” nations.
So, she came to Cut Bank last March, the month following one of the coldest months Cut Bank had experienced in a number of years.
“Winter will always be harsh for me as I grew up and spent most of my time in tropical countries,” she stated. “But I have a good heater at home and I just bundle up really well to beat the biting cold. I will survive. I am resilient. Cut Bank is home for me and H.C. Davis Elementary School is my family. I could never ask for more.”
Matilde is teaching Special Education for second and third graders at H.C. Davis Elementary School.
“I had this intense longing to work in the United States as a special education teacher to learn more about the American way of teaching special education,” she explained. “Because you see, America is number one when it comes to special education and I want to contribute and learn new things as well.”
So, Matilde came to Cut Bank at the end of the school year last year and started over teaching again in the new school year this fall. But there is something different for this young lady for this school year.
In early August of this year, one of Matilde’s sons, her youngest, Rolando III, better known as Jetro, came to live with his mom and start his senior year at Cut Bank High School.
“I named him after his father and grandfather. He is the youngest of my sons, with the eldest one being Jonas, who is in the Philippines at this moment,” she explained. “Jetro is 18 and he loves that his school is not giving him so much pressure. He has more freedom here as a student and he likes that his teachers are respectful of his rights as a student. He loves the school gymnasium and is also interested in American history.”
Matilde said it is not easy for Jetro to adjust to a new school, but “I believe he has made friends now and is enjoying school. He wants to try out for basketball and I do hope he will make it.”
Jetro and Matilde parted when he was three years old and “the longest time that we were together was only for like nine to ten months,” Matilde said. “It is a great relief for me to have him here and is a great chance for us to know each other really well as mother and son. We didn’t have that opportunity while he was growing up.”
Matilde could not be happier to have one of her sons with her, because in her eyes, there is nothing like family.
“It made me really happy that I have family now. So even if it was really difficult to have him here, financially speaking, I took the chance. I want to grab that chance to be a mother to him in every way I can. The 15 years that we spent away from each other could never be undone, but we still have more years to spend as mother and son,” she shared.
Coming to Cut Bank last March was Matilde’s first time in the United States. And she could not be happier finding a home here in Cut Bank.
“I like the warmth and caring nature of the folks here in Cut Bank, everyone seems to be so kind and generous,” she said.
And Cut Bank Schools, well, she loves that part of her world too.
“I love the school system, which is really good. We have our freedom to work inside the classroom. I have not felt so much trust and respect. H.C. Davis Elementary gave me so much of that, trust and respect. I give my highest respect to my co-workers, my awesome principal, Venus Dodson, who is a very big source of support and my superintendent, Mr. Johnson, who would always come over to my classroom to see if I am doing just fine.”
She continued, “At this point, the persons I could not do without in my work are Amy Raines, our school Speech Therapist and Cynthia Horne, our school Psychologist. They are a great fountain of knowledge for me. And the three I work with everyday, Diana Collins, Angela Seifert and Jodi Augare, who are the best! And my mentor, a very young, great lady who has been with me since day one, Kelsey Brown.”
Matilde’s time and experience here in Cut Bank has been nothing short of amazing, each and every day and one that she is eternally grateful for.
“I have been given a great opportunity here, to be at my best, to commit mistakes and learn how to correct them to make my performance as a teacher better and better each day. I think those are the two things that I enjoyed most in my school, the trust and respect that they are giving me. Both make me a better teacher and a better person as well.”