Roosevelt Teacher Pays it Forward

Yadira Gonzalez is an English teacher at Roosevelt High School and a finalist for an Excellence in Education award last spring. Roosevelt head counselor Phoua Yang said Gonzalez has high expectations for students and is "always looking for ways to ensure they are off to a good start when they graduate from high school and are prepared for the world beyond."

What made you decide to be a teacher?
I knew I wanted to become a teacher when I was a high school student as I too wanted to make a difference in the lives of young people.

What do you enjoy the most about teaching?
The best part about teaching are the relationships I have developed with students. I feel fortunate to play a role in their development as young adults.

What do you enjoy specifically about teaching at Roosevelt?
Many of our students face very difficult challenges and despite those challenges, they come to school and do their best. I admire their resilience and feel privileged to serve them. Additionally, I'm incredibly proud to be a part of our Roosevelt community of administrators, teachers, counselors, and classified staff who collaborate to ensure that we do our very best for our students.

How did the Inspire Tomorrow program come about?
Many of our students' are first-generation college students, so navigating the world of college can be a scary experience. Six years ago, a team of administrators, counselors, and teachers recognized this issue and wanted to do more for these students. The goal of Inspire Tomorrow is to increase our four-year college acceptance and attendance rates. Our program hosts a yearly mentoring dinner for our students attending Fresno State in the fall where alumni mentors (former RHS students attending Fresno State) dine with our seniors and provide them with tips as to how to navigate their way through college. Additionally, we host two college trips for 10th and 11th graders who meet eligibility criteria and have never been on a college trip. Our dinner and trips are made possible through donations from EECU, California Endowment, and the support of the district.

As you prepare for this new school year, what do you hope to accomplish?
My hope every school year is that I can have a positive impact on our students. I want every student in my classroom to believe in their potential despite any challenges they face, and to know that I will be there to assist them in any way I can.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
When I am faced with students who are challenging in the classroom and won't connect with me, I hope they find a connection with another adult on our campus. Oftentimes, the most difficult student has huge personal challenges and I must be especially patient with this particular student.

What book are you recommending to others right now?
I love to read young adult novels. I just finished reading "The 5th Wave" series and it is outstanding.

Name one thing most people do not know about you.
During my free time, I enjoy restoring furniture and have even taken a class on how to use chalk paint.