Happy September Moms! It's hard to believe that summer is winding down and back-to-school season is upon us! At Working Moms of Milwaukee, we love teachers and appreciate all the hard work they do for our kids, which is why this month's mom is extra special! Meet Patricia Clarke, teacher at Notre Dame School of Milwaukee, and this month's spotlight mom!
Please tell us you Name / Employer(s) / Profession(s)
My name is Patricia Clarke. I have a bachelor’s degree in engineering, and a license in education. I work as a teacher at Notre Dame School of Milwaukee. I am bilingual Spanish & English. I earned my bachelor’s in Mexico and my teaching license in the US.
How many children do you have?
I have two children, Connor who turned 16 in July & Anna who will be 15 in October, junior and sophomore at St Thomas More High School in St Francis. We also have two pets, a dog, Hazel, and a turtle, Macuca.
Tell us a little bit about your family.
I was born and raised in Mexico City, and moved to the United States when I married my lovely husband Tim. I don’t have any relatives in Milwaukee, only friends who have become my immediate family. My entire family lives in Mexico City. My mom comes to Milwaukee to visit once a year in the fall, and we go to Mexico during the summer. I come from a large family of teachers. My grandma, who is 92 years old, worked as a teacher & principal for 42 years in the elementary level. My mom (retired now) worked as a first grade teacher for about three years and then became an administrator of her school district. I have an aunt who worked also as a 6th grade teacher and principal for more than 30 years, and another aunt and a cousin who are P.E. teachers. My dad has been a middle school principal for about 40 years. My two younger brothers are engineers.
My husband is from Elgin, IL, and is the youngest of nine kids. The majority of his family live in IL, and we try to get together at least once a year. We got married almost 22 years ago. We lived in IL for a year after we married and then moved to Milwaukee.
Explain/describe one of your proudest mom moments recently.
I am a proud mom of two intelligent and responsible teenagers who have always excelled in school and in everything they do. One of my proudest mom moments recently is that Connor has been invited to become part of the National Honor Society due to his academic achievements, and Anna follows those steps very closely.
What do you like best about your work?
I work in an all-girls campus at a catholic school on the South Side of Milwaukee. What I like the most about teaching is the opportunity to pass on my passion for education. I work hard to inspire and motivate my girls to continue their education, so they become strong and independent women. I encourage them to do their best every day on everything they do.
What's the hardest part of being a working mom?
The hardest part of being a working mom is to be able to keep up with housework, drive my kids to their after school activities and do work from school.
What has been the biggest surprise so far in motherhood?
I think the biggest surprise to me is when “I become MY mom”. There have been times when I realize that I do and say things that my mom used to say to me when I was little.
What is the most challenging aspect of teaching?
I think that the most challenging aspect of teaching is being able to know my students’ needs in order to serve them well. Every year I have a classroom with students who come reading, writing and doing math from two years below grade level to two or three years above grade level, that can be frustrating. Sometimes I feel like a teacher in the old times that had a classroom with all the grades in it.
I always compare my classroom with a garden of flowers, where every child is a flower. In MY garden there are different types of flowers, and each of them is special and has its specific needs. My goal every day is to take special care of each little flower to see them bloom beautifully, that is my reward.
Why should people learn a second (or third, fourth) language?
In my experience, being able to speak two languages has given me the opportunity to have a better job, to help people as an interpreter, to have more friends, to speak in “secret”, to teach English speakers about me and my culture, to have a healthier brain, to have an extra skill, and many more things. Why should people learn more than one language? Because it’s FUN!
Do you have any words of advice for other working moms, especially those that are newer working moms and learning how to navigate this new world?
When something becomes difficult to me, I always think about people who have done what I need to accomplish and say to myself: “If they can do it, I can do it too. I might take a little longer, I might have to do it differently, but I will do it!” Being a mom, just as being a teacher, or anything else in life, can be challenging, but it is rewarding too.
What is Milwaukee's biggest opportunity to improve the lives of working moms and better support them?
Networking, relationships, groups like Working Moms of Milwaukee in social media.
What is your favorite family friendly restaurant in the area?
Forum II Family Restaurant in Greenfield, WI
Favorite grown up hang out?
It’s been a while since the last time we went out without the kids, so I don’t know. We will have to restart exploring again soon. We like to visit our friends and hang out with them, while our children have fun together too.
Do you and your family have any fun plans for Hispanic Heritage Month?
We try to go to the Mexican Fiesta every year, and on the night of the Mexican Independence Day, September 16, we cook a special Mexican dinner.