Today’s Honoree is Barbara “Bobbie” Minton

If there’s a teacher more inspirational than Barbara Minton, I’ve yet to hear of her. I’ve had the honor of seeing her positively influence hundreds of underprivileged kids through her teaching and multiple nonprofit programs she’s set up. Bobbie works full-time as a teacher at a school for pregnant teens in Watts.

She has worked at Thomas Riley High School for more than a decade, challenging her students to rise above their backgrounds and teaching them the value of their own self-worth. I’ve heard story after story of Bobbie’s influence on her students, but one in particular has stood out amongst the others.

Seven years ago or so, Bobbie developed a very close bond with a student, Amaya, to the extent that the pregnant 16-year-old soon asked her English teacher to be her daughter’s godmother.

“For a person like Ms. Minton to be one of my compadres” was far from usual, Amaya says, adding that it was a “little risky” for an outsider to venture into the hood, let alone become a trusted friend.

After-school conversations quickly turned to phone calls, with the 16-year-old Amaya trusting Bobbie with stories about her physically abusive father and her fair-weather mother, who had kicked her out of the house because she was embarrassed at her being an unwed mother.

Her mother even secretly cashed welfare checks on behalf of Amaya and her child. Bobbie was the only person to attend Amaya’s graduation. She also shuttled her from job to job when she was carless, bought her groceries when she had only Nesquik for her baby, and was maid of honor at her wedding.

Amaya has come to see Bobbie as more than just a teacher. She became a best friend and a mother figure with whom she could confide her deepest secrets. Bobbie is now trying to help Amaya overcome her undocumented status. “I don’t know how she goes back there,” Amaya says of Bobbie and her job in Watts. “I know it’s a passion, but I don’t know how she does it. She has patience. She loves her career. I admire her for that.”

For more information on Barbara “Bobbie” Minton Please contact Jenna Rose Robbins

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