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Katrina Gonzales

October 17, 2017

Please give us a little bit of your background, your hobbies, what you like to do you in your spare time, etc. I have recently retired after 31 years in public education, so I am developing my hobbies now. During my years in the classroom, staying abreast of Young Adult Literature was my primary hobby, along with gardening. I love to travel, even if it is within the confines of the great state of Texas. I also enjoy writing and reading poetry. I have more time for that now, even though I often wrote along with my students in the classroom.

After  graduating from ASU in 1986, I taught in the following areas: Early Childhood-Handicapped, 5th grade general education, 3rd-5th grade social studies, ESL 5th-12th/district coordinator, 8th grade ELA, and, finally, high school English. Right in the middle of my career, I served as a consultant at Education Service Center XV. I went on to receive a master’s degree in Instructional Technology Leadership and became certified as a principal.

What is your current occupation? Currently, I am retired from education within the public school system; however, I am now teaching English as an ESL teacher to children in China through a company called VIPKID. Just like teaching in the brick and mortar classroom, one never knows what will happen in the virtual classroom. I love my Chinese students just as I loved my US students.

I am also serving for the 10th year on the board of the Texas Council of Teachers of English Language Arts (TCTELA). For the past six years, I have been the Executive Secretary for the organization. Prior to that, I served as President, as well as four other positions on the board of directors. The opportunities through TCTELA have created a space for me in the education world that has almost been surreal. After attending a workshop on “The Intersection of Sports, Literacy, and Society” at the National Council of Teachers of English Convention one year, I was first asked to present at the following year’s convention. From that presentation opportunity, I was then asked to contribute to the writing of a book. Published last year in November, seeing that book for sale online and at subsequent conventions has been a dream come true for me.

While that book was a guidebook for teachers wanting to learn how to weave sports into the ELA classroom, I am currently working on a historical fiction novel based loosely on the stories of my mother-in-law. I love the process of writing and feel I can contribute to the stories that must be told regarding race, gender, inequality, and perseverance.

While at ASU were you involved in any organizations or teams and what was your role?

I was involved in Kappa Delta Pi but only as a member attending meetings. I was a non-traditional student in that I graduated from high school and married one month after. I attended my first fall semester at ASU, but I became pregnant with my first child, Alana. I stayed out one year (the spring and next fall semester.) Returning the next year to ASU, my little family was my priority, so attending school was the stepping stone I needed to provide for my child. Eventually, within the education department, I found other young moms with whom I bonded. We remain friends even to this day.

In what ways did ASU help you to achieve your goals after graduation?

Looking back, English was my minor, simply because I loved it. I did not entertain the thought of teaching English and felt strongly that Early Childhood-Handicapped would be my “gig” for my teaching career. After adopting a child with special needs, Wes, I determined that I needed to explore other possibilities. Again, I never imagined teaching students in middle school or high school, but I ended up teaching English in middle school and high school and loved it! I feel as if I brought my love for literature and writing I developed at ASU into my classrooms to inspire my students. While my education classes provided the university “family” I treasured, my English classes became the thread that afforded me opportunities throughout my career I never dreamt of as an ASU student.

What skills did you take away from ASU?

  • Always ask if you are unsure of something.

  • Never sit at the back of the classroom (personally, I get distracted unless I am in the front or second row.)
  • Develop friendships with those you might not have previously.

Were there any faculty or staff that made a difference for you during your time at ASU?

Dr. Erwin and Dr. Hakes came to ASU when I began my education classes. Both of these women inspired me on my journey. My daughter, Alana, went to the Early Childhood program at ASU. After my classes, Alana and I would stop by both Dr. Erwin’s and Dr. Hakes’ offices. They would stop what they were doing to share a butterfly they had found or read a short book to Alana. During their classes, I learned that teaching was a balance of inspiring students’ hearts and emotions in order to reach their minds’ potential.

What is one of your fondest memories of ASU?

As I said earlier, my ASU “Family” were my fellow education majors, particularly those who also had children. In my junior and senior years at ASU, we would meet at Crystal’s, a restaurant just off Ave. N boasting a toy train that made its way around the ceiling of the dining room. They had the best happy hour with free food. My friends and I would bring our kids, fill their tummies with food and fill our souls with laughter and camaraderie.

Can you please provide a quote about your experience at ASU/what ASU means to you?

“ASU, where three generations have discovered the building blocks for a lifetime of learning.”