Husband and wife teaching duo in Texas balance work and life with constant compassion
This story is part of a series that celebrates outstanding teachers in our Flipgrid community. Stories by Angela Tewalt.
Early on in their marriage, Omar Lopez would walk into the garage to find his fishing lures color-coded. Again.
His wife, Fely, would then sneak around to tackle his office desk next, organizing paperwork and color-coding his folders there, too.
“I wanted to ‘fix’ everything for him!” Fely says. “I would organize his classroom the way it was perfect for me. And I’d be so excited and proud, like, ‘So, do you like it?!’ And he’d say, ‘No, no! This is not the way it goes!’ So now, I’ve learned to appreciate his own way. At least my desk is still neat!”
They smile at each other so big, her small hand on his big shoulder, with all the inside jokes and fond memories over the years and a respect for one another that could rule the world.
“She’s linear and very organized, and I’m more abstract,” Omar says. “She sees long-term, I see short-term. Everything has to be just right for her, where I’m like, ‘Okay, it’s going to get done, but slow it down.’ Our energies are very different – she’s literally jumping all over the place, I’m more reflective – but we complement one another perfectly.”
With all the affection and all the passion anyone could muster in a day, Fely will get your attention, and Omar will make you stay. They are two fellow teachers in La Joya, Texas, who have been married for nearly 20 years, and if you’ve yet to meet them, any student will tell you this is true: Their love – opposite personalities and all – will inspire you to love that big, too.
Fellow Educators Lead With Empathy
Omar and Fely met in an English class at a community college. Fely had recently moved to the United States after completing her education in Mexico, where Omar had grown up until age 10. After a year of dating, they decided to marry.
“We told our parents on a Sunday night, and we got married Wednesday of that same week,” Fely says. “When we decided to get married, we had nothing. We only had money saved for a wedding dinner for our parents, and we didn’t even have a table for our apartment. Do you remember, Omar?”
He nods slowly and warmly. “It was a folding table and folding chairs,” he says.
“But we were super happy with it! And we worked very hard,” Fely adds. “We had my outline with all of our goals, and we accomplished a lot, little by little. We’ve been co-pilots ever since.”
Today, they are both educators at Irene M. Garcia Middle School, only a mile from where Omar grew up. He teaches technology applications, and she teaches teachers as an ESL strategist. They both lead with empathy, warmth and, above all, passion.
“We have a lot of emphasis addressing the ELL population, because we see a lot of what we struggled with ourselves as far as the challenges,” Omar says. “We always start by looking at the strength and the value of each student and just helping them do better. We know that everybody’s got something to contribute.”