When a teacher educates multi-generations of students, the community impact can be invaluable. Josefina Lira and her daughter, Daisy Lira have had Dr. Maria Artiaga, as their professor for coursework, leading to their Child Development Certificate (CDC) at the Doña Ana Community College, Gadsden campus. Daisy’s mother first began taking bilingual, early childhood courses with Dr. Artiaga while she was working at a childcare center located in a battered women’s shelter in El Paso, Texas.
Daisy developed a love for children, after being influenced by her mother, and began taking CDC coursework. Daisy welcomed the thought of someday owning her own childcare center and credits Dr. Artiaga’s demonstration of patience and competence as influential in her career path to open her own center.
“I would tell Dr. Artiaga I was going to open a childcare center. After I got my Child Development Certificate, I took professional classes for my director’s certification. Dr. Artiaga helped me with writing my first policies and procedures for the center, which was about 8 pages. Today, it’s 32 pages!” Daisy laughed. “My husband even took classes with Dr. Artiaga to get his CDC. My staff takes classes with her on Saturdays, as well.”
Dr. Artiaga recalls teaching Daisy and her mother over 15 years ago, “ I remember saying to Daisy, that there was something special about her. I remember when she was having her first child, and she wanted her husband to learn the importance of early childhood education.”
Josefina acknowledges the profound effect of a good educator, like Dr. Artiaga, saying, “ I always had a passion for children. When I found out there was a professor who taught bilingual classes, I didn’t hesitate to enroll. Dr. Artiaga educates people like me, who are afraid to go back to school because of the language barrier.”
Josefina has since retired from her work in early childhood after a 15-year career in the field. Daisy is the owner of three childcare centers in Sunland Park and Chaparral, has 32 staff members and serves 210 children. Learning about early childhood became such a passion that Daisy continued her education and received her Master’s degree, in 2018, in education with an emphasis on early childhood. Dr. Artiaga is the newly promoted Executive Director for Early Childhood at Las Cruces Public Schools and continues to teach early childhood education courses at the community college.
“Children should be at the center of our conversations…I deliver not just content from textbooks, but from life experiences. I’ve known many of my students for years,” Dr. Artiaga explained. Continuing to educate others and expand early childhood education for children has remained a sole mission for Dr. Artiaga. Since 2014, the Las Cruces Public Schools Head Start program has increased from 1 full-day program to 16 full-day programs.
Through multigenerational and bilingual education, Dr. Artiaga, Josefina, and Daisy have sustained relationships and devoted their careers to the children and families they serve and continue to provide a quality education that transcends generations.