Share the Surprise

Humberto Ballesteros y Juana Cruz Pérez in the summer of 1993.

When I wrote the dedication to EL Excellence, I cried.

I cried at realizing how profoundly a family I had not seen in 25 years had influenced my life.

I cried because I wanted to thank them in person.

In that moment, I decided to make it happen. With Facebook only a click away, I could have told them about the book dedication on that September day.

No. Better to make it a surprise.

I’d wait for the book to print, and then find a way to get to Mexico City so I could give it to them in person.

Gratefully, we were able to use frequent flier miles and family vacation time to travel to Mexico City this June.

Love is Most Important

Read my previous blog for the backstory on this trip. Click the video link  to watch the moment I shared the surprise. Or watch the Spanish version here. In a time when fear and walls threaten to divide us, it is especially important to celebrate the stories of people connecting across languages, cultures and nations. I am so honored to have had the opportunity to live with the Ballesteros Cruz family, and to pay forward my gratitude in my work to create opportunities for all students in our schools.

Share the Love

Who has influenced your love for teaching and leading? Who has influenced your commitment to equity and language learners?

Share the love! Share this video on social media.

I continue to share your comments and EL Excellence book reviews with the Ballesteros Cruz family so they know the ripple effect of their kindness on teachers and students around the world. Tweet how you use #ELExcellence. Post a book review on Amazon. 

I am a keynote speaker, author and educational leader helping educators teach and lead for equitable schools. My books include EL Excellence Every Day, Breaking Down the Wall & Opening Doors to Equity. I'm a descendant of colonizers and enslavers deeply committed to transforming my family legacy for healing.


  • Beth Anselmi

    July 5, 2018, 1:21 pm

    If you can see this and not cry, something is wrong with your heart! Well done, Tonya!!

  • Betsy Lancefield Lane

    July 5, 2018, 6:00 pm

    The story is so timely and poignant—but watching the video brought tears to my eyes! What a wonderful example of gratitude and the countless ways we can leave a lasting impression (a powefully good one, in this case) on the people whose lives touch ours. It reminds me of the need to remain mindful, engaged, and compassionate as I move through my days! Thanks for sharing this with us, Tonya!

  • Tan

    November 1, 2018, 5:59 am

    How lovely, Tonya! I can feel the warm and affection you have for each other! Tears are the words our hearts can’t speak.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *