Hello, Rio Rancho. Some of you already know me, as I grew up here.

Amy Byres

It is great being able to play a bigger role in my community as a reporter. I believe I can do this hospitable city justice. I owe this community my education, work ethic and position as a reporter.

Through the years I have grown to understand the importance of giving back to your roots. I am still growing and have a lot more learning to do — no doubt Rio Rancho will always teach me something new.

I would not have this chance to learn if it weren’t for one very special Rio Rancho teacher who taught at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary; that teacher is Linda Rangel. She was my third-grade teacher and by far the greatest influence in my life.

Growing up, I had difficulties learning how to read. My mother tried everything. I attended summer school, I had extra tutoring and nothing would work.

To get through school, I would listen to other children as they took their reading test and I would memorize what they were reading so I could pass my reading test. This trick of mine got me all the way to third grade, where Mrs. Rangel caught me!

As I was taking my reading test, I forgot to turn the page. She stopped me, pulled out a different book and asked me to read it.

After I could not, she called my mother. I thought I was doomed. But as we all know, our Rio Rancho teachers are worth their weight in gold.

Instead of keeping me back a year, she tutored me every day after school till I could read at a third-grade level. By the end of the school year, I could read a book without help.

Mrs. Rangel continued to tutor me every summer and every school year until I left MLK. Without her, I know I would not be a reporter today.

I have much to give back to Rio Rancho and I know every word I write is a gift that one Rio Rancho teacher has given me. So, thank you, Mrs. Rangel, for this gift, and I will do my best to make you and my community proud.

(Amy Byres is the new staff writer covering business and Sandoval County government at the Rio Rancho Observer.)