The Long Beach Unified School District’s “Grown Your Own” initiative, which seeks to draw graduates from the district back to become teachers, has given out its first contract.

Daisy Martin, a graduate from Poly High’s PACE program, recently claimed the title of the first LBUSD student to receive a commitment for a teacher contract once she’s completed her certification requirements.

“I’ve always kind of known that I wanted to teach and help kids,” she said. “I remember in third grade I got to be the teacher for the day, and ever since then, I’ve never seen myself doing anything else but being a teacher.

“And the teachers that I’ve had along the way,” she added, “they’ve just been so amazing in my education and in guiding me along, so I want to do that for the future generation of students.”

To establish the program, the LBUSD partnered with Long Beach City College to offer a dual enrollment course that allows current high school students to begin working toward their teaching credential.

Martin said she learned about the program late in her junior year, when Poly High teacher Danielle Sawyer approached her with the idea. Martin then served two years as president of the Poly Future Teachers Club and added the additional coursework for the program on top of an already busy schedule.

After taking the initiative, Martin completed three of the four required courses during her senior year in PACE, while also playing on the Poly softball team.

It certainly helped that Martin’s mom, Elizabeth Sanches-Martin, is head coach of the Jackrabbits’ softball team and also a teacher on campus.

“They knew Daisy was working through high school, and they were always cheering her on because she’d show up to class in her uniform sometimes,” Sanches-Martin said of her daughter’s time at LBCC. “She’s had such a great experience meeting these people and getting a head start on everything.”

As a parent, Sanches-Martin said it’s a relief to know that her daughter has a career path chosen and a job opportunity waiting for her after college.

Martin will attend Cal Poly University in San Luis Obispo, where she plans to major in child development with a minor in psychology.

“As a mom, I just think security, security, security after college,” said Sanches-Martin. “You work so hard your whole life in school and then you’re done and it’s like, ‘OK, good luck!’ … I’m just excited for her because I know the quality of her life, and when she goes to bed at night, she knows she’s doing something that’s making a difference. And to me, that’s what teaching is.”

Growing up, Martin said her mom was a big inspiration for her, and she hopes to impact her future students in a similar way.

“She’s been one of the people that I’ve looked up to in wanting to be a teacher,” Martin said of her mom. “The way that she runs her classroom and the way that her students see her as somebody who really cares about them, that’s been something that I’ve always looked up to.”

After her time in college, she knows there’s a career waiting for her back home in Long Beach, where she can quickly go from student to colleague in the LBUSD.

Looking ahead, several more students from Jordan, Millikan and Poly will begin taking their courses at LBCC this fall, as more future teachers look to take advantage of this new initiative.