Unsung Hero: Teresa Romero

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There are just some houses you walk into and know immediately that they are more than bricks and mortar, wires and tile.

Julia M. Dendinger-News-Bulletin photo: A stay-at-home mom of three, Teresa Romero makes time to volunteer at her children’s school, Peralta Elementary, as well as for the local Little League team.

They are homes.

The house of Teresa Romero is just that — a calm, cookie scented oasis amidst the hustle and bustle of her family’s busy life.

The mother of three and stay-at-home mom, Teresa says family is of the utmost priority to herself and husband Joseph, who works for National Nuclear Security Administration in their weapons division and is a Peralta town councilor.

Sitting at her kitchen table that is covered in a table cloth emblazoned in pumpkins and fall leaves, Teresa talks about being a mother and volunteer.

For six years now, she has been the driving force behind the Peralta Elementary School Fall Carnival.

When her oldest son Daniel, 10, started school, Teresa became involved with the Parent-Teacher Committee at the school.

“They were talking about the carnival and didn’t have enough volunteers, so I said I would help out,” Teresa said.

Now it’s become kind of her “thing” and she’s very much in the groove of keeping things moving and organized.

Preparations start in September, with Teresa sending out letters to local businesses, asking for donations of food, supplies or money to fund the carnival.

She coordinates the games, solicits items for the silent auction, hires a band and above all, makes sure arrangements for parking have been made.

“Oh, that’s a big deal,” she says, laughing.

At this point, Teresa knows almost by rote the supplies the carnival needs, so a few weeks before the October extravaganza, she heads to Costco.

This year, she had another parent volunteer to help with the carnival, something Teresa is grateful for.

“Sometimes, sometimes, I wonder, ‘What did I get myself into?’ But then I see the smiles on the kids’ faces and it’s all worth it,” she said.

And since she was getting involved with things, five years ago Teresa also stepped up as the PTC president. For the most part, the president just fills in when there is a vacancy on the board, Teresa said.

For the past two years that’s been the fundraiser coordinator. For several months, Teresa goes to the school every day to count money and check the inventory for the school’s annual candy sale.

As the president, she also hosts the “popcorn and pickle Fridays” at the school, serves snow cones at the beginning of each school year and coordinates end-of-year field trips.

Apparently, keeping up with her 10-year-old’s football, baseball and wrestling practices, middle son 6-year-old Andrew’s baseball, wrestling and karate, and almost 2-year-old Mia’s gymnastics wasn’t enough for Teresa.

Last year, she volunteered to help with Yucca Little League. She served as the league’s treasurer, secretary and player agent.

The player agent is in charge of the draft and assigning players to teams, as well as the unenviable parent complaints.

“Parents wanted to know, ‘Why isn’t my kid getting more playing time? Why didn’t my kid make the Allstars?’ That was tough,” she said. “It turned out to be difficult to do everything. I felt like I wasn’t giving 100 percent to either. And I love this, the smiles on their faces.

“At times it was very stressful and I had to step back,” she said. “It’s hard to always be asking people to help and volunteer, and get turned down.”

Despite the hectic schedule and sometimes fast pace, Teresa says she wouldn’t change a thing and encourages everyone to get involved with their children’s lives.

“Everybody should get involved with their kids,” she said. “They have a better chance to succeed in life.”

Since she spends so much time at the elementary school, volunteering in her boys’ classrooms and her other activities, Teresa said she can see a huge difference between the students whose families choose to be an active part of their lives and those who don’t.

“They just do better,” she said. “You can tell the ones whose parents volunteer and help in their education.”

And Teresa is unapologetically traditional about family time and priorities. Every evening, they sit down at 5:30 p.m. for dinner as a family, just like she did as a kid.

Although some things can throw the routine off kilter.

“It was strange, for two weeks in a row we didn’t have football practice on Thursday night. We didn’t know what to do with ourselves because we weren’t rushing out the door to do something,” she says with a laugh.

In her spare time, Teresa reads, but a book that would normally take two or three days stretches to two weeks.

Darlene Jaramillo, the secretary at Peralta Elementary School, says Teresa does so much for the kids at the elementary school.

“She’s here every day picking up the candy money, getting ready for carnival,” Jaramillo said. “She and the other volunteers she gets to make sure everything runs the way it should, we really don’t give enough credit to.

“For having three kids and one under 2, it’s crazy what she does,” Jaramillo said. “She is a wonderful person, never complains. I’ve known her for five years and never once heard her complain about doing all that.”

Peralta Elementary School Principal Monica Arguello has gotten to know Teresa over the last year.

“She was one of the first people I met,” Arguello said. “Teresa has a huge heart, and she will open it up to everyone who needs help. She never says no.”

The principal said Teresa has spent countless hours at the school working on various projects.

“I see her every day. Her dedication, not only to us, but her other volunteer positions, is incredible,” she said. “She is such a good role model. Being part of the PTC is sometimes stressful, but she handles is all with a calm demeanor.”

Arguello said Teresa is dedicated to her family, Peralta Elementary, her children and their activities.

“She takes pride in being part of Valencia County and Peralta,” she said. “She is always busy, but she always takes time to greet you and say hello.”

Teresa was born in Valencia County, but in kindergarten, her family moved to California when the company her father worked for, Caterpillar, transferred him. They moved back here when she was a freshman in high school, so Teresa graduated from Los Lunas High School in 1996.

After graduation, Teresa said her sister’s boyfriend got a rodeo scholarship to Eastern New Mexico University in Portales.

“She was going, and really wanted me to go with her,” she said. “It was a lot of fun to be there with her.”

Teresa eventually transferred to the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and graduated from there with a degree in business management in 2000. She moved back to Peralta, where she met and married Joseph Romero.

At the time, he was in the Marines and the couple ended up stationed in Hawaii for two years. Teresa said being in the tropical location was fun and different, and her entire family visited at one time or another, but she still missed home.

Joseph completed his service and Teresa was pregnant with her fist son when they moved back to Peralta. But shortly after, Joseph was recalled to service due to the 9/11 attacks.

After Daniel was born, Teresa went back to work, but that was short lived.

“It was a hard choice. I always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom and give my kids the same thing I had growing up,” she said. “I remember coming home after school and mom was there, dinner ready.”

Teresa is very close to all her family, and her in-laws are no exception. Their cozy home in Peralta sits behind Joseph’s parents house while the couple waits to begin construction of their new house.

“I want our kids to grow up with the same values I saw when I was young,” she said. “I’m very fortunate to be able to stay at home.”


-- Email the author at jdendinger@news-bulletin.com.