The Eyes of a Servant Leader

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February 10, 2023 by HCDE Communications

Others see in us what we see in ourselves.

For Channelview Head Start teacher Nadia Gonzalez, HCDE’s February Employee of the Month, it was her college counselor who saw something special and encouraged her to pursue a career in education.

“My idea was to study cosmetology,” said Gonzalez. “But my counselor told me, ‘No, you have to be something else. I see something special. I want you to be a teacher. You have a special touch with people.’”

Remembering her own time as a Head Start mom, Gonzalez knew her goal immediately. She followed her counselor’s advice and completed an associate’s degree in teaching at Lee College.

“One of the motivations to be a teacher at Channelview Head Start is because my daughter was a student in Baytown Head Start, and now she’s 23 and still remembers her experience in Head Start,” said Gonzalez. “Every day when I would leave her at Head Start, I felt safe. I loved to see the communication and the involvement with the kids. So that’s why I decided to be a Head Start teacher.”

The Mexican native and longtime resident of the Baytown area says she is paying forward to other families what was given to her.

“I think our parents feel the same thing I felt. Every afternoon when they pick up their kids and see their smiles and talk to them, they are happy to see their kids are safe and happy in the classroom,” Gonzalez said confidently.

The trust she builds with parents begins with the work she does in the classroom.

“Ms. Gonzalez was nominated because she is a fantastic teacher. She’s an achiever who goes over and beyond what she’s supposed to do in a classroom,” said Channelview Head Start Assistant Campus Manager Debbie Jones. “I believe working with children is her calling.”

As a veteran Head Start teacher, Gonzalez is known for her warm and nurturing demeanor with both students and colleagues.

“I love when the students give me hugs. I love when they are laughing, and I love to see them playing and learning. This is what I love to see every day,” said Gonzalez. “It’s very important to build a relationship with the kids because they need attention. They need to be loved. I think this is a great place to work. I think this is a gift from God.”

Now a counselor to others, she sees in her students and colleagues their own “something special.” As a testament to her professionalism and collaborative nature, Gonzalez’s colleagues frequently seek out her advice.

“She has mentored other teachers. When they seem to get stuck, they go to her. I see them holding meetings and planning sessions. They share ideas and information, so she has their respect. She is that team player,” said Channelview Head Start Assistant Campus Manager Debbie Jones. “But the values of Head Start is something that Ms. Gonzalez not only acknowledges here at work but also in her personal life.”

For her recognition as the Department’s February Employee of the Month, an emotional Gonzalez is grateful to be seen and appreciated.

“It surprised me. It was a shock. I was crying, to be honest. I was crying because I thought that nobody appreciated my work,” said a teary Gonzalez. “I just want to say thank you to Channelview Head Start. It’s a pleasure to work here. Thank you, HCDE, for the work you are doing in this community.”

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