Carmen Rios dances with her kindergarten class before beginning an English lesson at Barbieri Elementary School in Framingham. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Teaching is Carmen Rios’ passion, especially kindergarteners.

“I love to work with them because they are so kind,” she said. “I like that I can give them that first experience in school and be creative and motivate them to love school.”

Rios spent 14 years teaching kindergarten in Puerto Rico. When she moved to Massachusetts in 2014 she wanted to keep working with young kids, but she quickly hit some roadblocks.

“I heard that I had to do a lot of steps to get the license,” Rios said. “And then I was scared about my language [proficiency]. Because all of the MTELs are in English.”

Back then, Rios didn’t have the money to complete the licensure process. So she had to press pause on her teaching career.

“I had to live in a shelter with my kids and then I got to my apartment and then I got my first job in McDonalds,” she explained.

She eventually did make her way back into the classroom, working as a paraprofessional in Fitchburg. This year, with the state’s new emergency license program, she was able to become a lead kindergarten teacher in a bilingual classroom in Framingham.

Read the rest of the story at WBUR’s website.