She was 3 years old when her father died in a car crash and 17 when her mother committed suicide. In between those bookends of loss, she lived with the man she refers to as “my evil stepfather.” He demeaned her, her two older sisters and her younger brother, and punished them with a belt when they didn’t meet his exacting standards.
To read the full story - click the blue link at the bottom of the post -
As the sun fades and her office on the fourth floor of the state Capitol darkens – Stewart, 70, has a pet peeve about wasting electricity – she says everything she needed to know about politics she learned in that haunted house with the man her mother brought home when she was 5.
“I’m good at politics because I learned how to work in coalition – with my siblings,” she says. “How to mediate with someone who we don’t trust and like – my stepfather. How to determine what to do about right and wrong – because my stepfather lied to my mother about what we did and who we were.” She stops and starts again. “I have more resilience than probably most people have.”
Last July, Stewart was representing New Mexico in New Orleans at an education conference and sat on a panel about closing the achievement gap. When it came her turn, Stewart, who has a master’s degree in education and taught for 30 years before she retired in 2009, spoke about the challenges of teaching children from low-income neighborhoods who come to school unprepared to learn. “We don’t know how to teach kids from poverty,” she said. “They come with no skills – well, they have street-fighting skills. They’ve got a lot of skills; they’re just not academic skills.”
When she was in elementary school and was asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, Stewart said “actress” and “teacher.” Ten years ago, as she was turning 60, Stewart wrote and performed a one-woman show at a small theater in Albuquerque. It was called “The Scary Life of Mimi Stewart,” and it explored her childhood traumas and the effects of being orphaned at 17.
To read the full article, written by Leslie Linthicum for the Searchlight New Mexico click here: The teacher: Childhood trauma informed senator’s legislative success