By Ed Martin, Editor
Laurie Martin (center) with Principal Pearl Prins (who nominated Martin) and Corcoran Superintendent Rich Merlo.
Laurie Martin (center) with Principal Pearl Prins (who nominated Martin) and Corcoran Superintendent Rich Merlo.
Photo Contributed to The Leader

Shocked and appreciative best summed up former Lemoore High School graduate Laurie Rodrigues Martin’s reaction when she was recently tabbed as the Corcoran Unified School District Teacher of the Year.

Martin, a 1991 LHS grad and that year’s co-editor of the school’s yearbook, The Nuntius, currently teaches second grade at Corcoran’s John C. Fremont Elementary School, where she’s been for the last nine years.

(Editor’s note). During one point in his long educational career, the leader's editor served as the Lemoore High School yearbook advisor. In 1991 co-editors Rodriguez and Loretta Black (who currently serves as an elementary school administrator) turned out one of Lemoore’s finest yearbooks. Martin reminded me that she was also a member of one of my freshman English classes and was a student in a photography class I taught her sophomore year.

During her high school years, Rodriguez-Martin was a no-nonsense editor who demanded excellence from the yearbook staff. Likewise, the attitude persisted because she apparently demands the best from her students and fellow teachers.

Unfortunately for Martin and her fellow Kings County honorees, there likely won’t be a Kings County Department of Education Excellence in Education event, celebrating all the county’s top teachers and employees. However, according to other honorees, the County Office of Education has produced a video celebrating its honorees.

“It was shocking,” said Martin, who was surprised when notified by the District’s leadership that she would be Corcoran’s top teacher for 2021. “I feel appreciated, and I do help a lot of the new teachers. I’ve been supporting teachers now for six or seven years.”

Martin has been teaching for about 17 years, including an entire year stint at Lemoore Meadow Lane Elementary, where she taught on an emergency credential. She did two years In Kettleman City, then five more years at Corcoran’s Mark Twain Elementary School before heading to Fremont Elementary School.

She loves teaching second graders. “I enjoy seeing the kids begin (learning) to read because second grade is where they start getting the concept of reading,” said Martin.

Eventually, Martin earned a bachelor’s degree and teaching credential from Chapman University. Her first teaching job was as a substitute at Lemoore High, where the 21-year-old subbed until she got a full-time job.

She and her husband, Chris, have three sons: Chris, 24, Kyle, 23, Anthony, 20. She and her family currently live in Lemoore.

Like most teachers and students this past year, COVID-19 has taken its toll on education. “This year was very hard,” she said. “We did Zoom at the beginning, and teaching on Zoom is very hard for second graders. Their attention span is awful. We came back in person in November and then were back on Zoom in December, the last week before Christmas break.”

Like most California and Kings County public schools, students returned to split schedules and reduced hours in the winter and spring. But education continued despite the virus.

And all those who know Rodrigues Martin, she’s not going to let a pesky virus get in between her and her students. She will continue to teach, and her kids will continue to learn.