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Buffalo Strong: Longtime educator putting countless hours into students and veterans

Dinorah Santos
Dinorah Santos volunteering
Posted at 7:18 PM, Feb 04, 2022

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Becoming an educator takes a special person: it requires the need to inspire, the will to be patient and to help guide kids, all while helping them retain information in the allotted classroom time.

Dinorah Santos is a Buffalo Strong teacher, by impacting young minds and veterans.

Buffalo Board of Education Spanish typist, Dinorah Santos said, "All kids are different. They come from different backgrounds. You have to learn how to read them. You have to learn how to listen to them because sometimes you don't know what's going on in the house or sometimes when the kids come to the school. When the kids ask you for help, you need to help them."

Dinorah Santos has been in Buffalo's education system for nearly 25 years.

She explained, "Since I started working with the school, I love working with kids."

"She's also the mom of many students here, where she's very nurturing. When she needs to be firm, she is firm. She's able to handle a phone call. She's able to look up information. She is also able to handle parent and teacher requests all at the same time," Frank A. Sedita Academy PS 30 principal, Rafael J. Pérez said. “She is selfless in her approach and she understands. Dinorah’s heart is huge.”

Community service is something she got involved in when the single mother of four arrived in Buffalo from Puerto Rico, in 1994.

"A lady across the street. Her name is Rosalinda. She helped me so much. She adopted me like a daughter. I was getting all the help and she knew people. All the community used to help me," Santos explained. "One neighbor decided that she is going to start picking up my daughter without me asking, so I was welcomed in Buffalo."

Inspired by the City of Good Neighbors, she too got the itch and has decided to pay it forward ever since.

“She is selfless in her approach and she understands. Dinorah’s heart is huge.”

"She was helping tenants ensure that they were able to, when they government was able to give them this money so that they were able to pay their landlords. She helped all these community members," Pérez said.

While she is a full time employee for Buffalo Public Schools, many joke that this is merely a part-time job, because the next phase of her service to the community begins at The Belle Center, where she works with kids ages 13 to 21.

"They go to the Bell Center to play basketball, they play volleyball, they go for soccer and they do weightlifting. So, they go over there, they meet friends, you get to talk to them," she said. "The Bell Center is like my second home. It's a great community center. The staff are great. We are really a family there."

Santos has been with The Belle Center for the last 13 years. She is currently and evening program coordinator and a summer youth program coordinator.

A military mom, herself, Santos also helps shine light on Hispanic-American Veterans, being one of ten members on the board.

Santos said, "Anything that a veteran needs as a Hispanic or others, we are always able to help them and we raise money to help others."

During the holidays, she helps selected families celebrate "Three Kings Day": a holiday celebrated in Latin American and Caribbean countries. At least 150 families with roughly 300 kids are each given presents.

Santos said, "We invite all those families to come that day and we provide each kid to have three to five toys that we give in to the family. Also, we do a raffle. The community donates a lot of appliances, a lot of things to raffles. We do the raffle for the adults."