Retired Rocks Teacher Helps Out Because ‘I Love Teaching These Students’


photo by Chris Raymer

“I love these guys and these classes so, so much,” Martín said. During her five weeks at Trinity, she made lasting impressions on students new and old. She worked to make the learning interesting, as well as fun.

Chris Raymer, Staff Reporter

Hearing that your teaching career of nearly three decades was going to end in an entirely unexpected way took Trinity Spanish teacher Senorita Maria Martín by surprise in March of 2020. Schools across the world shut down due to the rising COVID-19 pandemic. The last two and a half months of Trinity’s school year took place off campus.

Martín retired at the end of May 2020 and moved to North Carolina. She received an unexpected call in February 2022 asking if she would return to Trinity for a few weeks to teach classes for friend and colleague Senor Jorge Serrano while he was on extended absence.

“I left my house at the end of February, and I can’t believe it’s almost the end,” Martín said shortly before leaving in mid-April.

Class was back in session for Martín in Floersh Hall, and colleagues and students were happy to have her back. What made this experience unique for Martín and her students was that she had taught some of them in previous years.

“I love these guys and these classes so, so much,” Martín said. During her five weeks at Trinity, she made lasting impressions on students new and old. She worked to make the learning interesting, as well as fun.

“I’ve had her for maybe over a month now, but when she put a sombrero on Jack (Corbett, ’23) and we sang happy birthday in Spanish, that was amazing,” sophomore Emerson Cardoza said.

Thoughout Martín’s career she made an impact on the Louisville and Trinity communities, but she began her passion for sharing her knowledge with others before coming to the Bluegrass. After graduating from college, she began teaching Italian in Puerto Rico, where she was born. After moving to the United States and watching her children go through school, she knew it was time for a return to the classroom.

“I thought that’s where my heart was. When I moved to the states, I stayed home with my kids, and when they started school, I decided it was my time to go back,” Martín said.

She began her career in Louisville, just down the road from Trinity. “I started at Sacred Heart Model School, and I loved it over there. It was a good experience and taught me a lot about teaching.”

Martín’s Trinity experience began when two of her sons became Shamrocks. She loved the school so much as a parent that she wanted to come back and use her teaching skills to educate the next generation of Shamrocks. 

I love feeling comfortable enough to answer in her class. Even if you completely butcher something, she will help you through it and figure it out.

— Trinity junior Mitchell Jacks

“Two of my three sons went to Trinity, and when they graduated, I felt totally disconnected from Trinity, and I did not like this. I thought, ‘Next time I see an ad, I’m going to apply.’ I needed that connection because this school was so good for them. It was perfect for me, too,” Martín said. “After Paul graduated in 2002, I saw an ad in the Record and I applied, and here we are.”

At Trinity, Martín taught a variety of Spanish classes and headed many clubs and extracurriculars.

photo by Chris Raymer

“I used to teach the S400 class, which I absolutely love teaching. I used to teach S301 and S302, and now I just do S302. I used to teach Spanish I advanced and honors, and now I teach four classes of Spanish I, two honors and two advanced,” said Martín regarding her recent and previous class schedules.

Outside of the classroom, Martín brought her leadership skills to the Y-Club and Trinity’s drum line.

She said, “When the drum line became available, I was part of the drum line for a long time and absolutely loved it. Oh, and I loved KUNA and KYA  (Y-Club events). I just was always amazed to see what the kids could do in that environment and how much they learned and how well they debated. I was always so proud.”

After teaching at Trinity for 18 years, Martín announced her retirement during the 2019-2020 school year. The end of her on-campus Trinity journey came sooner than desired. The abrupt end to her career played a crucial role in her return to sub this year.

Retired Trinity teacher Ms. Maria Martín subbed for Mr. Jorge Serrano for five weeks this semester.  photo by Chris Raymer

Martín said, “The more I thought about it, I just needed closure. Mar. 13, 2020, they closed schools. And that was my last day (on campus) at Trinity, and I never said goodbye. Not to my students, my advising that I loved so much, to my friends, to anybody. I remember when I came at the end of May before I moved to North Carolina for my personal belongings from my classroom, the school was dark. There was nobody here. After I put things in my car, I sat in the parking lot and cried because this wasn’t the way it was supposed to end.”

In addition to closure, there was another big motive for her return. “I think what really made me come back was the idea of being here again. I love this place, and I love teaching these students,” she said.

When her recent time at Trinity ended this month, Martín said the experience gave her “closure, and to teach the students that I taught before in this Spanish IV class is an amazing experience. I love it. To teach the new students I didn’t have before, I just love passing on my passion for Spanish.”

Her passion for teaching the Spanish language and culture shines through her lessons and personality, according to her students both new and old. Cardoza is fluent in both English and Spanish, so Martín brought a new dynamic to Spanish class for him.

“I feel having someone there who is more fluent than I am really helps me connect my ideas and improve on the language I was born into,” Cardoza said. “She’s really helped me get out of my shell when it comes to speaking in front of my classmates.”

Martín’s return also provided a unique experience for members of the Class of 2023. Those who were in her Spanish II class their freshman year had her again for AP Spanish IV.

“It’s almost like reliving freshman year again,” junior Mitchell Jacks said. “I love feeling comfortable enough to answer in her class. Even if you completely butcher something, she will help you through it and figure it out.”

Martín’s students will tell you she has a specific way she likes to run her class, but they love the way she does it. “It’s very conversation oriented. We would spend probably 30 minutes of class on it,” Jacks said. “The conversation was a struggle back then (his freshman year) and took a while, but having to struggle through it before has helped me up until now.”

For Martín, learning should also be fun. From fashion shows in the Spanish II class to birthday portrait walls in the Spanish IV class, students have made new memories as well as reminisced about old ones with Martín.

Jacks remembered a joke Martín played around Halloween.  “My freshman year she had this decoration on her podium that was a hand sticking out of it. Niko Jones (’23) wasn’t in class that day, and I asked where he was. She said in her podium.”

Martín will be greatly missed by students, new and old, and faculty alike.