JIMENA GAMBOA

Teacher, John F. Kennedy Elementary, Edinburg CISD

Charles Butt Scholar Alum, UT Rio Grande Valley

Q What does your teaching life look like right now, and how are you handling it?

A It is definitely not as I expected it would be, however, just as rewarding as I imagined. It is very tough to work with students who face internet problems or just can’t seem to concentrate due to the distractions found in their home. I have days where I am very stressed, but others where I love what I do and look forward to seeing the kids, even if it is online.

What should Texans know about what is happening currently in public schools?

Texans should know that expectations for teachers have not been lowered despite working during a pandemic. On the contrary, I believe they are higher than ever because we do so much more than before. Standardized testing is a big influence on Texas schools, and it has not gone away. Teachers are still trying to teach and prepare their students as much as possible for the end-of-the-year exams, and it has gotten extremely hard due to our current situation.

Can you share one recent moment or memory that encapsulates your experience or communicates what is most meaningful about your job right now?

I had a time in which a mother sent me a message where she just wanted to tell me that my hard work is not unnoticed and that she appreciates all that I do for the kids and her son. To me, that served as reassurance that I was doing my job well and that no matter how hard things get, I cannot give up because they depend on me.

How has your education prepared you for this moment?

I think no education prepares you for teaching during a pandemic. Although, being a Charles Butt Scholar enabled me to be in the UTRGV Step Up program, which immersed me in a school classroom for an entire year. That experience definitely prepared me well enough to tackle my first year in the classroom, yet working with students online for a whole day, never seeing them in person, and preparing to teach with two monitors is something no amount of education can prepare me for.

Given the good, bad, and ugly of 2020-21, what do you love about teaching right now?

I love that despite never seeing my students in person, I still have meaningful connections with them. I love to see them learn and get good grades even though online learning is tough for them. I enjoy seeing them every day, even if it is through a computer, and I look forward to seeing them in person someday.

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