GEMS World Academy-Chicago is committed to forming lasting relationships between our faculty and parents to create a nurturing environment for our students. Our very own Grade K educator Emelina “Emily” Ortiz is currently expecting her first child. In this interview, Emily shares her experiences and hopes for the future.


Q: Are you having a boy or a girl?

A: My husband, Tim, and I have decided that we would like to be surprised with the gender of the baby! We’ll find out in July along with everyone else.


If you’ve decided on a name, how did you choose it?

The hardest part is naming a baby that we haven’t met yet. We have it narrowed down to a few names that we are keeping secret. Once the baby is born we will see which name best suits him or her. We went through a lot of names though; it was difficult to find names we both liked.


How has working with children prepared you for your own motherhood?

Since this will be my first child, it’s hard to say just how prepared I’ll be for motherhood. As a teacher, I have to have a lot of patience, which should come in handy as a new mother! Also, working with children has helped me become very understanding and empathetic.


How have your students responded to the big news?

My kindergartners are very excited for me! When I told them the news, the baby was the size of a mango, so I brought in a mango for them to compare. That day I also asked for name suggestions and someone suggested "Mango." The rest of the class loved it and the name, Baby Mango, has stuck. (My husband and family also call the baby Mango!) These days, they love to give me belly rubs and tell stories to the baby. I think the baby will be born thinking he/she has 14 brothers and sisters!


Are there any stories you’re looking forward to reading to your child?

Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats is one of our favorite books. We currently have a dachshund who looks just like Willie and sometimes we call him Willie. We can’t wait to share this story with our child. If only I could whistle!


Have you had any weird food cravings?

Nothing specific, just sweets! And coffee…how I miss coffee! And of course there are French fries, but who doesn’t crave French fries?


What do you wish you would have known before you became a parent?

This is difficult to answer while pregnant with my first child. I’m sure once the little one is born I’ll have a much better idea! I do get a lot of wonderful tips though, like: “Say goodbye to sleeping-in.” Like I sleep in anyway with four animals in the house!


What changes have you made to your home to prepare for arrival?

We are currently working with a contractor to convert our loft into a bedroom. Once that is done we can start putting together the nursery for the baby.


Will you be teaching your child any second languages at home?

We don’t speak any language other than English, but we plan on making sure the baby is exposed to Spanish when my family comes for a visit! We would also like to use baby sign language to promote early communication.


How do you create a work-life balance?

Currently I love spending evenings with my husband, cooking dinner together and watching Netflix. During the weekends we enjoying going for walks with our dogs and frequenting our favorite vegan restaurants. I also like to bake a lot!


What does family mean to you?

They’re the ones who are there for me always providing support and understanding love. They are the people who mean the most to me. Family is also the people I love and care for. Family just isn’t people; our family also includes our furry children: Veggie and CousCous, our dogs, and Peanut and Sassy, our cats. They, like family, are sometimes annoying, like waking up wanting to be let outside at 1:00 AM, but always provide unconditional love.


Happy Mother’s Day, from our family to yours!

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