Illinois was an unlikely place for Lizzeth Fausto to end up. Born in Orizaba, Mexico she moved with her family to Forest Park when she was five years old. At first, they stayed with an aunt, who lived across the street from Field-Stevenson Elementary School. After saving enough money, Fausto, along with her mother and father and older sister, rented an apartment in the same building as their aunt. Soon after moving to Forest Park, Fausto’s parents divorced. The sisters stayed with their mother. Today, Fausto’s older sister lives, like their aunt once did, across from Field-Stevenson.
Fausto now works in the education system.
One of the first people who believed in Fausto’s dream of becoming a teacher was Glenn Lid, her Honors Chemistry teacher at Proviso East High School. He encouraged Fausto to apply for the Golden Apple Scholarship, which provides tuition and academic support to high-performing students who are planning on becoming high school teachers in high-need schools. Lid was recognized as the Golden Apple Teacher of Distinction in 2007.
Although Fausto did not receive the scholarship, she said having a teacher who believed in her made the difference between going after her dream or leaving it behind.
“It’s really nice to just have people that believe in you and people that are amazing educators be your example and be in your life still,” Fausto said.
It’s been 16 years since Fausto graduated from Proviso East but she still keeps in touch with Mr. Lid.
Fausto has invited her former chemistry teacher to her school district multiple times.
She has worked for the Bensenville Elementary School District 2 for the past eight years. Fausto taught second-grade bilingual education for five years in the district. One day she was called into the office of her principal to meet with the Assistant Superintendent for Learning at the Bensenville district.
She was offered a new role – as a bilingual consulting teacher, instructional literacy coach and peer evaluator.
Now Fausto is a teacher for other teachers.
She isn’t stopping at this stage of her career. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree from Northeastern Illinois University to become a principal.
Although Fausto is a native Spanish speaker, she initially wanted to teach French.
It wasn’t until a counseling session with her adviser at Northeastern Illinois University, where she graduated in 2007, that she realized that she could offer students more as a native Spanish speaker. At first, she was upset with her adviser when he tried to deter her from becoming a French teacher.
“He said, have you not looked in the mirror…have you not look at the demographics of our growing population for students…you are a Spanish-speaking individual. You need to be a bilingual education teacher,” Fausto said.
Fausto ran home angrily to tell her mother what happened. To her surprise, her mother agreed with her adviser.
“At that time, I wanted to teach elementary level and he opened up my eyes,” Fausto said.
The 34-year-old doesn’t leave teaching behind when she returns home at night. Her son, 9, and daughter, 7, also benefit from having an educator as a mother.
When the news that migrant children were being separated from their families was revealed this spring, Fausto took this as a learning opportunity for her children.
She and her children attended a march against the separation of migrant families.
“I thought about it really hard because I didn’t want to expose my kids to something that could have turned into an ugly situation,” she said.
Although, Fausto is a U.S. citizen she hasn’t forgotten her roots. She doesn’t want her children to forget either. Her son and daughter have both visited Mexico and have seen the house where Fausto grew up.
She has taught her children to be proud they are American but to also represent their Mexican heritage.
But there is still a gap in understanding for her children when it comes to family separations.
“How come that kid can’t have what I have? Just over a stupid paper, my son will say,” Fausto said.