The Blandford Blue Jays love to create mellifluous noise in and out of the music room. Mrs. Gonzales is not only an amazing music teacher, but she helps these elementary students strive to do their best in all aspects of their lives – including the production of music. She has been doing this for fourteen years now and still remains passionate about her kids and the material she teaches to them. Even though she sees around 120 kids a day, sometimes over 170 when she meets with her Ukulele Club and/or Chorus, she aims to reach every single one of them and foster relationships with them.
These relationships are important to her, just as she had teachers that poured into her; she wants to be that teacher to her students. In high school, Mrs. Gonzales’s band director, Mr. Manigo, invested his time into her, and his knowledge was shared with her. He fueled the fire for Mrs. Gonzales, and she realized she did not have to pick between her strong love for kids and her strong love for music. She could have the best of both worlds, and it was called elementary music.
With the initial help of Mr. Manigo, she went on to attend college at Milligan College in Tennessee and received her bachelor’s degree in Music Education. Later, she acquired her master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Georgia Southern University. When looking for a job, Mrs. Gonzales knew she wanted to teach in Effingham County. She came to Blandford the first year it opened and has been there ever since. She has fallen in love with her school and its students and does not want to be anywhere else.
This passion she has is something she would share with fellow teachers. She would advise them to remain passionate about education, children, and whatever you are teaching. She realizes that in the day to day routine of things we can all go through times where we have bad days, but Mrs. Gonzales believes that if educators remember the reason they started, and begin to connect fully to that initial fire that that should help them to pursue through the bad days.
Her students remind her of the love of music making. For example, they come to her with different songs they have written or different sounds they want to show her, and this exposes to her over and over again the true love of music making. Mrs. Gonzales realizes that she is not just a teacher to these students, but a musician. To be a good music educator, she must remain an active musician. Being both of these things, she aims to keep her classroom positive, high energy, and of course, full of music! For every class, she has a goal that her students make music in some way. Mrs. Gonzales strives to help her students truly love music. No matter where their lives take them, she wants them to love music the way she does so they can know it is something fun and inspiring for them in their lives.
Along with the love of music, she hopes that she teaches her students the meaning of kindness and the golden rule. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Being a firm believer that kindness can get you a long ways in life, Mrs. Gonzales aims to instill this quality in her students. Another quality she hopes they would have is perseverance. To keep trying; to not give up. She wants them to know that your best is your best. It may not be equal to someone else’s “best,” but that doesn’t matter because you are your own person. Try your hardest and don’t give up.
As a result of this hard work her students put into making music, the lightbulb moment is a huge part of her students that she finds so much joy in. To know they achieved what she was encouraging them to do and that they have become musicians in their own right is very inspiring to watch happen as the teacher.
Being a loving and caring teacher is what she hopes her students remember most about her. That yes, she loves music, but more than that, she loves them – no matter what they are going through. As well as loving, Mrs. Gonzales is a very organized and efficient person, so her classroom runs smoothly and tasks become completed on time. Even when her students aren’t grasping something quickly, she is persistent with them and remains steadfast in her teaching so that hopefully the material will click in their minds. She strives to continue to teach children to love music and to become musicians in their own right. This is and always has been her goal. As she prepares them with the knowledge they obtain, she wants this to help them with their next chapter in life. Mrs. Gonzales hopes to equip kids to be proficient, successful individuals at their next level.
When she found out about her accomplishment as Teacher of the Year, she was humbled. This was something that surprised her because she works with so many wonderful educators on a daily basis, so for her to have been chosen, she was completely humbled and filled with love. With much love to Mrs. Gonzales, we congratulate her on her achievement as BES Teacher of the Year.
Author and Photographer: Saralyn Helmly (Media Student Intern)