Sayda Rapalo’s job is to help teenagers expand their knowledge. But the most important lesson of her teaching career didn’t come from her.
It came from one of her students at Shannon High School in Haltom City, Texas, where she teaches Spanish. The two were having a conversation about following dreams, during which Sayda realized she wasn’t living up to her full potential.
“And we had a really deep conversation and one of my students said, ‘OK, Mrs. Rapalo, what about you? Have you followed your dream?'” Sayda said. “I got quiet and I didn’t know what to say! And then I said, ‘No. I haven’t,’ and they said, ‘Why?'”
Ever since she was a little girl, Sayda has loved cooking desserts. But it wasn’t until that moment that she knew for sure it was something she wanted to pursue. “I said, ‘You know what? I need to follow my dream and my dream is to be a French pastry chef,'” Sayda added. And she followed through, enrolling in culinary school with her husband, Roland, at El Centro College in Dallas.
After that, the Rapalos took on second jobs so Sayda could go to pastry school in France. Months of hard work and studying finally paid off when the mom-of-two added “pâtisseries master” to her resume and received her chef’s hat.
The next step for the pastry lover was, of course, to open her own bakery. Sayda and Roland found a charming pink house for sale in Richland Hills and knew it was the perfect match for their vision. After converting it into a restaurant, they opened Quixote Bakery Café in December 2017.
On top of running a bakery, Sayda is still working full-time as a teacher. Time management became a top priority next to the culinary arts. In the mornings, she teaches at the school while Roland manages their establishment and bakes his famous homemade bread. Then, after school, Sayda joins her husband and their team, creating equally beautiful and mouthwatering treats from scratch, from tarts to sandwiches and everything in between.
Their food has become so popular, in fact, that the bakery made it onto Yelp’s list of “Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S. 2019,” ranking in at number 80! But more importantly, Sayda became an inspiration to her students, many of whom are graduating and embarking on their own paths toward their ambitions.
“Absolutely, she is definitely an inspiration in my life that you can do whatever you want,” said Katelyn Thrasher, one of Sayda’s students and part of this year’s graduating class.
“And if you have dreams, it doesn’t matter the age, it doesn’t matter you have the money or not, it’s a dream you follow it,” Sayda added.
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