Hermosa Beach native Terry Martinez was named an education advocate of the year Wednesday night at the Redondo Beach Unified School District State of Education event.
In her acceptance speech, Martinez complimented her time at Hermosa Beach schools, saying that they prepared her for the "big city"—Redondo Beach—when she went to high school and graduated in 1971.
"I am very proud to be from Hermosa Beach," she said. "Hermosa Beach was a great place to grow up."
Martinez, who taught in RBUSD for 12 years, is the official RUHS archivist—the "go-to person" for historical information about the school.
"I got into the school's history before I was a wife or a mother or a grandmother or a schoolteacher," Martinez told those assembled after accepting the award.
As the archivist, she has tracked down photos of parents who attended the high school in the '50s, and even helped reunite an adopted woman with her birth family after some detective work. Martinez's only clues? The last name of the woman's father and the knowledge that he attended RUHS.
"We do a lot of really heavily sentimental work for people," she said. "There's a human element and then there's a cultural element … It's terrific work. I really enjoy it."
Martinez was not the only one recognized as an education advocate. School officials also honored Gentil Smith for her work with the Redondo Beach Educational Foundation.
To ensure the two friends would both attend the State of Education event, Martinez was told that Smith would receive the award, while Smith was told Martinez was receiving it, according to RUHS principal Dr. Nicole Wesley.
Martinez and Smith also received commendations from state Sen. Ted Lieu and Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi.
The recipient of the education advocate of the year award is chosen by the Redondo Beach Partners in Education.