Amy Martin grew up in Hacienda Heights with two older sisters, her mom and dad, a variety of cats and Buffy, who Martin said was the best dog in the world. "Think Benji, but even more lovable," Martin said.
She went to college at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego — a wonderful experience for her. She loved living near the ocean, made great friends, earned her teaching degree and even met her future husband. The college and Hesperia Unified School District had an internship program that enabled her to get a teaching job in Hesperia while working toward a master's degree at Point Loma. She was hired at Maple Elementary School, figuring she'd stay at the school a year or two. She's still taeching at Maple 21 years later, now married with a son who is in high school and a 10-year-old daughter.
Q: What do people not know about your job?
A: I think people don't realize how much extra time teachers put in: afternoons, many evenings, time on weekends and summer vacation.
Q: What is the best thing about your job?
A: The kids are definitely the greatest thing about my job! It's amazing to think that hundreds of kids have gone through my classroom. I just love seeing former students, all grown up. Often, they're very surprised that I remember them; I don't think they realize how invested teachers are in their students.
Q: Tell us about one thing you want to accomplish in life.
A: I would just like to raise my two kids to be honest, happy, responsible people who live their lives with integrity. It's a basic goal, but accomplishing it would make me proud.
Q: Where would you like to be in 10 years?
A: In 10 years, I'd love to be living closer to the beach. I don't know that it's a realistic goal, but one can always dream. Better yet, if I could just pick up my house, my friends, my school and my church and plunk it all down right by the beach, that would be ideal!
Q: What is the source of your values?
A: I was brought up in a Christian home and that shaped a lot of who I am today.
Q: Who is someone who had a big influence on your life?
A: My mom has had a huge influence on my life. As a kid, she was so fun to hang out with — she still is — and always made me laugh. But she also was a great example of how to be kind and reach out to others. She's a wonderful mom and I strive to raise my kids in the same way that I was raised.
Q: Tell us about your belief system.
A: I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside. Oh, wait, that's Whitney Houston's belief system!
Q: What motivates you?
A: I'm very motivated by dark chocolate! As a teacher, I'm motivated by seeing my students grow throughout the year, becoming responsible and independent learners.
Q: What is your secret to living a happy, satisfying life?
A: I'm a rather positive person and tend to make the best of situations. I'm pleased by the simple things in life and am usually happy with whatever I'm doing at the time.
Q: What is something you are particularly proud of?
A: Besides the obvious answer of my kids, who I am very proud of, I do love to bake and make a mean carrot cake, if I do say so myself! The recipe is one used by my grandma, then my mom, and it was passed on to me. It's so delicious — and healthy too, right? Carrots?
Q: What book had a significant impact on you?
A: Wow, being such a huge reader, I don't know that one particular book had an impact. I certainly love "To Kill a Mockingbird," and "The Catcher in the Rye" is one of my favorites. I have a very clear memory of my high school English teacher reading that book aloud to my class. He had a droll English accent, a beard and wore tweed jackets with patches on the elbows. He perched on a stool and throughout the semester, read the entire book to us. I was enthralled. I reread it every few years, and I can still hear his voice as I read. My son recently asked me to recommend a book for him to read, and I was pleased to pass on my weathered copy of Catcher in the Rye.
Q: What are five things you can't live without?
A: I can't live without: 1) my iPod — I listen to it in my home, in my car, in my classroom, and I take it on vacation; 2) books; 3) make-up — yes, I know how shallow that sounds; 4) my french coffee press (along with coffee beans and my grinder) — I start every morning with coffee. To me, it just tastes so much better made in a french press; 5) laughter — as my friends and family will attest to, I laugh a lot. My husband teases me because sometimes I say something that I think is funny, but I'm the only one in the room laughing!
Q: What words of advice do you have for younger generations?
A: Guys, pull up your pants! Seriously, that's the one trend that I in no way understand.
Q: What is your passion?
A: I don't know that I have one thing that I'm passionate about. I tend to get interested in something and do it for a while (like tennis or hula dancing), and have a lot of fun. But after a while, I discover I stink at it and feel like I'm in over my head, so that hobby dies off. I do love to read, and always have, even as a little girl. No matter how tired I am at night, I have to read before I go to bed.
Q: What do you do in your free time?
A: In my free time, I really most enjoy relaxing and spending time with my family. We like to take short trips to San Diego, the Palm Springs area and the beach. When home, I like to read, listen to music, and ride my old beach cruiser. I must admit, I do also enjoy "zoning" out in front of the TV in the evenings. During the summer, a perfect day is spent in the pool in a floating lounge chair, reading a book or People magazine, or working on a Sudoku puzzle.
Q: Which three people, living or from history, would you like to have at a dinner party, and why?
A: Let's see...first I'd invite Israel Kamakawiwo'ole (Iz) to provide some lovely background Hawaiian music. Next, I'd like to have Jon Stewart over. He's so intelligent and knowledgeable about what's going on in our country, but he would also make me laugh. Lastly, I'd invite Jesus. Imagine all of the questions he could answer! I think that mix of people would make for some lively conversation and a great evening. Besides, if we ran out of wine, Jesus could always take care of that.
Q: What's your favorite movie and why?
A: I don't think I can pinpoint one favorite movie. I love some classic "chick flicks" like "When Harry Met Sally" and "Sleepless in Seattle," but also more serious films like "The Shawshank Redemption." But to be honest, my silly side really loves "Napoleon Dynamite" and "Elf." As many times as I've seen those, I still laugh out loud!
Q: Tell us about a special vacation.
A: I'm fortunate because when I was growing up, my family took many great vacations. We've been to Hawaii many times, and of course that's always amazing. But I think a vacation we took to New York really stands out. Five years ago, my husband took a business trip to New York, so my kids and I tagged along. I had been to New York as a teenager, but there's something about being there as a mom and sharing it with my kids that was a whole different experience. We stayed in the heart of Manhattan, and crammed as much into each day as we could. I loved watching my then-9-year-old son hailing a cab and figuring out the subway map. My daughter was 5 at the time, and immediately fell in love with Central Park. We loved everything about our trip from the typical "touristy" things (the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building) to the more "local" activities (visiting the New York City library and walking across the Brooklyn Bridge).
Q: What's your favorite guilty pleasure?
A: I must admit, I love some reality television shows. Project Runway and Top Chef are a couple of my favorites.
Q: Tell us about your first car.
A: My first car was a 1973 Volkswagen Bug that I named Olga. I had it painted a beautiful teal color, and I absolutely loved that car. I drove it in high school and all through college, and only sold it when I knew I was moving to Hesperia. I didn't think it could make it up the Cajon Pass on a regular basis, and didn't think I could survive living in the high desert without air conditioning! The day the new owner drove away in Olga, I cried.
Q: What's your favorite sports team and why?
A: I really don't follow sports much anymore, but when I was a little girl, I was a die-hard Dodgers fan. Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, Steve Yeager, Davey Lopes, Bill Russell — I have great memories of watching them with my family.
Q: What's the best thing about living in Hesperia?
A: The clean air is a great advantage of living here in the desert. I always hate it when it's a beautiful, clear, sunny morning here and then as I drive down the pass, I'm hit by a wall of fog or smog.
Q: What is your earliest memory of the city?
A: My earliest memory of Hesperia is when I came up to interview for my teaching position. I was driving with two other applicants from my college, and as we were on Interstate 15, all we could see was desert. We kept saying, "Where is the city?!" When we finally arrived, we just couldn't believe how hot it was!
Q: Describe a special memory you have of Hesperia.
A: It's always so much fun when it snows here, but I especially remember the first time it snowed during the school day. I was a new, very young teacher, and I was just as excited as the students! We all quickly donned our coats and ran outside to the field to play in the snow. I expected other classes to do the same, but we were out there all alone, running through the snow and throwing snowballs. Later I discovered the other teachers were looking out the windows at me (probably shaking their heads and thinking I was a little bit nuts).
Q: Tell us about the charities that are close to your heart and why.
A: Habitat for Humanity is the one charity my husband and I faithfully contribute to. I love the work they do and the huge impact they can make on the lives of families. I would like to become involved on a more personal level, but there is not a local chapter, even though I know we have the need.
Q: What's your favorite place to eat in Hesperia?
A: Through some people at work, I was introduced to Taco My Hacienda on Main Street. It has very good food and quick, friendly service. It's close to my school, and is one of our favorites when we get the chance to go out for lunch. Another gem in the High Desert is Ala' Al-Deen up on Seventh Street in Victorville. It has the most delicious Middle Eastern food — I highly recommend it.
Q: What new businesses would you like to see come to Hesperia?
A: I would love to have a Panera Bakery, a Souplantation and a Trader Joe's market.
Q: If you could change one thing about Hesperia, what would it be?
A: I would just love to see more green.
Q: Tell us one thing that most people don't know about you.
A: Most people don't know that I've been on television several times, sometimes for a brief glimpse, and sometimes for longer. My husband and I were on a game show many years back, and I was in the audience of the Ellen DeGeneres Show. The second time, Ellen and Martina Natatrova were hitting tennis balls through a big picture of my face. While in New York, I was on TV during the Today Show and Good Morning America. It's sort of a running joke in my family that I'm a media hound and am always trying to get my face on television. I guess I must admit I sort of am!
Who would you like to see profiled in an upcoming Q&A? Drop us a line at Editor@HesperiaStar.com.