A Teacher’s Vocation

The Texas Story Project.

“I want to be the teacher who makes a difference, and hopefully leave a lasting impact on somebody,” said Martha Gonzalez. As a former student of her fifth-grade class, I replied, “I think you’ve definitely made that impact as now, nine years later, I am a first-year college student at St. Mary’s University and I still look up to you.” 

Martha Gonzalez was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. She went to college at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Throughout college, everyone but Gonzalez recognized her calling to teaching. It wasn’t until she acknowledged her love for kids that she recognized it too. Gonzalez found her vocation in education and teaching in the public-school system. She graduated in 2010 and taught 5th grade and 2nd grade at Evers Elementary. Currently, she is teaching in the Gifted and Talented (GT) program as a GT Specialist at Jack C. Jordan Middle School, where she specializes in teaching social studies to GT students. 

Being raised in Texas, her first recognition of learning social studies was when she was in 4th grade learning about Texas history. Over the years, her fondness of social studies only grew. She enjoyed learning about the people and events that shaped our state and our nation. As she was teaching in elementary school, she pushed social studies/history more into the studies of second and fifth graders. Seven years later, she took a job in middle school teaching Texas History and U.S. History. As a middle school teacher, she began to push herself even more to learn about the history of Texas. She began to attend history workshops at the Alamo and living history events throughout Texas. She often drags family and friends out on history field trips to visit old towns, forts, battle sites, and museums. She even loves to invite her students to special events in San Antonio, such as battle reenactments. 

Gonzalez understands that there is always more than one side to a story and values the importance of multiple perspectives in her history lessons. History can be very controversial, which Gonzalez recognizes. “There’s always bias [throughout history]. Really, history is your perspective on the story and it’s really easy to be caught up in this whole nationalism…[so] I tell the kids more than one story, more than one side.” Gonzalez recognizes the controversy of texts taught in grade school and actualizes it for her students. She allows them to formulate their own opinions and beliefs based on the facts by using primary sources in her lessons, not just a single story often seen in textbooks. 

Whether her students recognized her dedication or not, her passion for her work is most definitely noteworthy as it has made a significant impact in my life and in the lives of others. As she puts it, “I definitely feel like this is what I was meant to do…I’ve always had this deep sensation like I have to make a difference, and if I don’t make a difference in other people’s lives then what am I doing with my life?” Finding such a passion for one’s profession is significant in life and Gonzalez continues to amaze both her students and others around her. For nine years, I have most definitely been amazed. 

Mikaela Hurtado is a Sophomore Forensic Criminology major with a Biology minor at St. Mary’s University and is a part of the Marianist Leadership Program. She was born in Roaring Spring, Pennsylvania and migrated to San Antonio, Texas in 2008. She has experience in multiple fields from cancer research at UT Health to service at a senior living community. She also received her national certification as a certified Pharmacy Technician in the state of Texas at age 17.

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