LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Antonia Gonzales

Position: Fourth Grade Teacher
School: La Junta Intermediate School
School District: East Otero School District
City, State: La Junta, CO

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Antonia Gonzales was nominated by her colleague, Angela Lewis.

Ms. Gonzales has been a paraprofessional at East Otero School District for three years. For the past two years, she took the initiative to become a fourth grade teacher. She is currently enrolled in the Alternative Program so that she can obtain her Colorado teacher’s license. Ms. Gonzales received her Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice from Colorado Technical University. She is enrolled in the Alternative program through BOCES (Boards of Cooperative Educational Services) in Lamar, Colorado. Ms. Gonzales has many years of experience working in the education field. Prior to arriving at East Otero School District, she worked in Pueblo County School District for four years.

"She has taken on a huge responsibility of playing a leadership role for our kids in East Otero School District, as well as other teachers," said Lewis. "It is with great pleasure that I would like to nominate her. She is a skilled lead teacher who has the ability to inspire and direct students while following the needs and ideas of children in creative, emotionally and socially harmonious group settings of different ages and diverse backgrounds. Ms. Gonzales maintains good rapport with parents, co-workers and administrative staff. I am proud to have her on my team."

Ms. Gonzales engages students while fostering autonomy and enthusiasm for learning. She designs flexible, interactive lesson plans and spontaneously follows her students' interest in facilitating emergent curriculum. She uses ABA principles (Applied Behavior Analysis) and IEPs (individualized education plans) to help assess readiness for fourth graders. Ms. Gonzales is skillful and nurturing with special needs children by fostering creativity, confidence, cooperation, and compassion.

Ms. Gonzales is a natural teacher with a pleasing, empathetic, intuitive, gregarious personality and good common sense. She is very self-motivated with high standards and an ability to motivate others. She is confident and relaxed with people, and she maintains a good balance between spontaneity and planning with a high level of professionalism. Ms. Gonzales is very social and quick-minded, with excellent verbal and written communication skills. She always has a good sense of humor, resourcefulness, and a willingness to take on tasks and follow through with her positive attitude. Ms. Gonzales has great stamina, is enthusiastic, enjoys a challenge, and is charismatic.

Ms. Gonzales has made a great impact on the lives of the children at La Junta Intermediate School. The children look up to Ms. Gonzales. She has many years of experience working with children. In her classroom, the kids are well-organized. The kids know what is expected of them, and she has a smooth transition. She has a positive classroom, with all kids engaged at all times. Ms. Gonzales does very well in demonstrating her knowledge of reading, writing, math, science, and social studies.

Her lessons meet state and district standards and frameworks. She conducts her lessons by showing real-life situations and relationships to other areas of the curriculum. Her students promote the critical thinking and problem solving that Ms. Gonzales does every day. Ms. Gonzales shows prior planning and preparation that makes her class run smoothly, with well-developed transitions. Her students demonstrate their increased knowledge in each subject area. The students react quickly and positively to “teachable moments” when they occur. She shares data with the children from both formative and standardized assessment to drive instructions.

"If anyone deserves to be nominated, it should be Ms. Gonzales," Lewis said.

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