What Mary Ambriz enjoys most about her work as office manager at Mariposa Elementary School are the students.
“There is just nothing like a child. They are so candid, so funny,” says Ambriz, a member of Redlands Education Support Professionals Association (RESPA), who has been named the 2022 Paula J. Monroe CTA ESP of the Year. “I love interacting with them.” Even though she’s in the principal’s office, there are always students around. “We don’t consider the principal’s office a bad place to go. Children are welcome here. They come in for a hall pass, or to tell us something like they have a loose tooth.”
Ambriz was honored at CTA’s March State Council meeting not only for her years in education, but also for her dedication to her union. She has been a site rep and RESPA director of clerical, and has served on the executive board. She has been RESPA’s executive secretary for 10 years.
Ambriz says her RESPA work is very fulfilling. “You have the ability to impact so many peoples’ lives, such as when you represent a member who has been called in for disciplinary action, and you help them navigate an outcome that is not punitive. And I really enjoy mentoring new RESPA leadership. Showing them that we don’t have to be at odds with our administration, though there needs to be firm boundaries. Explaining that this is what someone is able to do, or not — it’s right here in the contract.”
Her colleagues appreciate the mentorship. “Mrs. Ambriz continues to show me how to be the best leader I can be with her continued support,” wrote Sharon “Liz” Huerta-Brewster in her nomination letter. “Mary is helpful, caring, resourceful, and always happy to offer service no matter the task.”
Ambriz is also deeply involved in the Redlands community, and public service runs in the family. She and her late husband, who was a police officer, instilled their belief in public service and volunteering in their children. Daughter Becky is an elementary school teacher in the same school district, Redlands Unified. Son Daniel is a paraprofessional in the district and is finishing his education to obtain a teaching credential. And youngest son Matthew is a firefighter for the city of Long Beach.
Ambriz is a proud grandmother of two, with two more on the way. “I’m a big quilter, and I love to read. I’m starting to paint watercolors — I’m not good at it, but I enjoy it. But being ‘Nana’ is the best.”
Her RESPA peers think she’s the best in other ways, too. As Huerta-Brewster says, “She lifts up ESP colleagues by expressing that ESPs matter, that our students matter, and together we can achieve great things.”