Leader Spotlight: Ms. Rocha from Eisner Middle School

Erika Rocha has been a leader at Eisner Middle School for three years and works to help her students become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Thank you for all you do for Students Run LA!

Q: Where are you a SRLA leader? How many years have you been with SRLA and what brought you to us?
A: I have been a leader at Eisner Middle for three years. I previously taught 8th grade at Eisner MS and they had an SRLA team. I wanted to coach, I had ran cross country in high school, because I wanted to be able to reach my students outside of the classroom as well as get back into running.

Q: What is your day job?
A: I am a 10th grade English Teacher at USC Hybrid High.

Q: What is your favorite training tip, quote, or words of advice that you share with your students?
A: I always like to tell my students that it is one step at a time. As long as they are still moving, even if it is a “grandma jog,” as I call it, then they are making progress. On our team we always stress that it’s a battle with yourself to take the next step, to want it, and to prove to yourself that you can do it. It has really helped with our kids being comfortable with being uncomfortable and encouraging each other because they know that their buddy next to them is going through the same thing they are.

Q: What has been your favorite SRLA event of all time?
A: My favorite moment is when our students’ parents see them finish the first half marathon. A lot of our parents have never considered or been exposed to running as a competitive sport, and though we have parent meetings at the start of the season, the concept of a Marathon is abstract. As they watch their children struggle and push themselves to finish that first half, it is quite amazing. They cry and are sometimes more thrilled than their runner as they cross the finish line. I love this moment because they realize that their children are working towards accomplishing an incredible feat. Over the past few seasons, we have had some of our parents sign up for the remaining races, to support and enjoy the time with their kids, as well as have them come practice with us and let us know about other races that are going on, so we could all run together as a family.

Q: What is the best thing about SRLA in your opinion?
A: The comradery. The best thing is to see how we really do become a family, with our runners and their families, over the course of the season.

Q: Do you have a favorite teaching/mentoring moment you’d like to share?
A: I always love how the day of the Marathon, or as we meet up at Santa Monica High School. after the Marathon, the kids ask, ‘So practice tomorrow?’ It has happened every season- the moment of wait, what now? Running is our ritual. It grows into a time when we are with each other and are a family- we don’t easily let it go.

Make a donation in honor of Ms. Rocha today!