Local News

Teachers deserve better: Orange County senior delivers emotional speech at meeting

Posted May 17, 2016 6:58 p.m. EDT
Updated July 12, 2018 2:13 p.m. EDT

— Last week, Orange County commissioners caught an earful about teacher pay and school budgets from someone who feels the pinch from both sides - the son of a teacher.

In a very powerful speech, Mateo Carvalho, a senior at Cedar Ridge High School, said he does not get to bed until 2 a.m. some nights because he works two jobs. His mother, a teacher, also works a second job to pay the bills.

"I'm here because I am exhausted," he said to county commissioners during last week's meeting. "I worked 27 hours in the last five days after school on top of taking eight exams. I have worked so much during exam week because my mother is a teacher in Orange County Public Schools."

Sparing no details about what that means to his family, Carvalho said teachers deserve better.

"(My mother) works two jobs. Wakes up at 7 in the morning. Takes my younger brother to school. Goes to school all day - on her feet all day. Goes to work at Food Lion until 11 at night...it's ridiculous," he said. "All of my teachers are working two jobs."

Jennifer Cypra, Carvalho's mother, said it was hard to hear her son say those things.

"You don't want your kids to struggle. You want them to have everything in the world, and when you are not really able to do that, it sort of breaks your heart," she said.

But Cypra said she is also bursting with pride for her son, whose spur-of-the-moment speech got a standing ovation.

County commissioners are considering a proposed $2.6 million increase in educational funding. The Board of Education asked for a $9 million boost.

"If you're telling me my future is worth less than a dollar a day to you, well, you're not doing the best you can," Carvalho said at the meeting. "I count seven TVs in this room."

His voice made an impact.

"If I could work every day for the rest of my life just to make sure the teachers in this country never have to struggle the way my family does, then I will, and that's what I am going to do," he said.

Commissioners said they were very moved by Carvalho’s speech. The next public hearing on the county budget is scheduled for Thursday.