Each month we celebrate an amazing working mom in our community. Check out this month’s WMM Spotlight!
September 2018 | Working Mom of Milwaukee Spotlight | Jessica Santiago
To kick off our Working Moms of Milwaukee Spotlight, and also considering that September is back to school time, we wanted to highlight an amazing teacher in our community. Meet Jessica Santiago, Spanish teacher at New Berlin West! Get to know Jessica a bit more below and stay tuned for additional posts about this awesome working mom all this month!
What is your profession?
I am a Spanish Teacher at New Berlin West Middle & High School, grades 7-12. This is my first year at this school, and I’ll be teaching Spanish 1 and 2. I have experience teaching all levels of Spanish and have focused on the Intermediate and Advanced Spanish courses at Nathan Hale High School, where I taught for the last 14 years. I also travel with students internationally every two years and assist with the Spanish National Honor Society.
How many kids do you have and what are their ages?
I have two children. A daughter who is a junior in high school (age 16) and a son who is in 7th grade (age 13).
Explain/describe one of your proudest mom moments recently.
Every day I feel proud of my children. Recently, my daughter, who now works, was terrified to ask for a day off. As an adult I forget how daunting a conversation like this could be for a 16 year old. It’s something that I cannot do for her; a real-life issue that she needed to solve on her own. She practiced with me how she would approach her boss, and I could see how hard it was for her to do. She did it and came home telling me how confident it made her feel. It makes me feel proud to see my baby becoming a confident young woman who confronts a challenge instead of cowering from it.
What do you like best about your job?
Teaching gives me the opportunity to be creative. Each day is different and I learn so much from the students. I am able to coordinate community events where I hope influence them to become altruistic volunteers in life. I take students abroad every other year and feel so happy to see their wonder at different cultures and courage to communicate in the language they’re learning. At the high school level, I prepare and propel them into adulthood, where they attain professional careers, find love, become parents, continue to study Spanish, travel the world, and even become teachers, and I love knowing that in some way I made a positive impact on their life decisions.
What’s the hardest part of being a working mom?
It was hard for me to be away all day when they were younger, but my husband worked 2nd shift so there could always be a parent at home with them. It was hard for us as a couple to balance that schedule and not see each other, but it was wonderful for the nutrition, physical activity, and early learning for the kids. We always supported each other and made it work. Now that our kids are in school, sports, orchestras, clubs, even working and socializing, the challenge is finding family time in the week that we are all together.
How long have you been a working mom?
16 years; I have always been a full time working mom.
Any words of advice for other working moms, especially those that are newer working moms?
Though your career is important, the most noble profession is being a parent. Be sure to put your family first and cherish the time you spend together. Put your phone away when you’re with your family and give your whole attention to being a mom with your child.
Favorite MKE hangout?
Humboldt Park in Bay View. With two playgrounds and a wading pool for littles, a beer/wine garden for the biggies, two lagoons for fishing and ice skating, tennis courts, walking paths and events such as Chill on the Hill concert series, Movie on the Hill, and Pumpkin Pavilion, it’s been our family favorite hangout for years.
Anything else you can tell us about your family?
We are bilingual and bicultural. My husband is originally from Venezuela, which is where we met. It’s sometimes a struggle to maintain fluency in Spanish; I suggest to other families that speak multiple languages to really try to maintain the non-English language at home as much as possible and find friends who speak that language to build a solid foundation and enrich speaking skills for the children. Keep your culture alive by practicing the traditions and making the foods together.
What (in your opinion) is Milwaukee’s biggest opportunity to improve the lives of working moms and better support them?
I love that Milwaukee supports networking groups such as WMM and others to find others with similar needs and interests. In my career, there are days available for me to take a day off if my child needs to be cared for or supported. I feel that all parents should receive this kind of support, in addition to extending the maternity and paternity leave of absence.
Thank you Jessica!