It is such a simple gesture.
“Every morning I go in and I say hello to my teachers. ‘How was your weekend?’” Rocklin High junior Francisco Marquez said. “‘How was your day so far? How was your morning?’”
With each wave, with each greeting, Francisco knows he’s making a difference in the life of a teacher or administrator.
“He walks in my room and he sticks out his hand and he shakes my hand every time I see him,” Rocklin High teacher Matt Bumgardner said. “He just has a really positive energy. He just emanates kindness.”
Rocklin High teacher Adrienne Tacla says Francisco’s selflessness is not only appreciated. It’s rare.
“It’s always about others first,” Tacla said. “It’s not ‘what can you do for me?’ I get excited about the days that he’s in my class because I know that he makes me feel validated as an educator.”
When asked why he makes such a concerted effort with his teachers, Francisco is quick to credit his parents for the way they raised him.
“That’s how I grew up,” Francisco said. “That’s how I treat people. My peers. My friends. Even people that I don’t know. That’s how I treat other people. This is who I am.”
Francisco grew up in a house where his parents only spoke Spanish. To this day, Francisco serves as a translator for his mom. In addition to learning a new language, Francisco also struggled with certain parts of reading comprehension.
“He has difficulties being an English language learner plus having an IEP,” Rocklin High teacher Rachelle Sloan said. “He kind of has a double whammy in a sense. He tries very hard to blend in. He wants to be someone who doesn’t need support. So he works really hard to be just like everyone else.”
Francisco admits school can bring its fair share of challenges. As a result, he has to put in extra time to reach his goals.
“School for me, sometimes personally it can be difficult in some cases,” Francisco said. “But most of the time, in my opinion, I just find ways to achieve it.”
Francisco also knows the support system at Rocklin High is responsible for some of his success.
“They help me with mostly all of my work. I do appreciate their help. I really do appreciate their help. Without them, I’m not sure where I would be.”
He’s overcome a lot to get to where he is today. Now, Francisco Marquez is on the fast track to high school graduation day. But what stands out most is his selflessness, something that he’ll carry with him long after his time at Rocklin High.
“He comes in,” Tacla said. “He knows exactly what he needs to do. If he doesn’t have something to do, he’s off to go help somebody. And that’s what gives me joy. That’s what you want to see in your students. And that’s what you want to see when you send your students off into the world. If they could just have a little bit of Francisco, it makes me happy.”