Arizona ELL Teacher of the Year

2016 Arizona ELL Teacher of the Year

– Victoria Gonzales –

Victoria Gonzales was born and raised in Silver City, New Mexico, where she graduated from Western New Mexico University. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and an endorsement in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. Victoria completed her Master’s degree with honors in Early Childhood Education from Northern Arizona University. She also has an endorsement and is highly qualified in Early Childhood Education. Ms. Gonzales is currently a first grade SEI teacher at Starlight Park Elementary in the Cartwright School District.

Victoria has been a part of the Cartwright School District for 19 years, her entire career. Throughout this time, Ms. Gonzales has taught a variety of grades from preschool to second grade and has also been a district mentor for new teachers. Victoria is currently involved in the district iClass21 initiative as well as the district Math Leadership Committee.

When receiving the award during a school assembly, Victoria acknowledged the hard work of her students and their families. She also expressed appreciation for her fellow teachers and the significant impact team collaboration has on her teaching.

When asked to describe her educational philosophy as related to ELL students, Victoria responded, “Students learn best when they feel and know that I care and believe in their ability for success. I believe as an educator I must cultivate a classroom environment that encourages students to take chances, think independently, and respect other individuals. This environment opens pathways for language development, which directly impacts academic growth. As an ELL teacher I understand the importance of adjusting my instructional strategies to meet the individual language levels and needs of all students. Keeping in mind that student participation, discussion and discourse have a direct correlation to the internalization of new learning.”

When Victoria is asked about her most rewarding experiences teaching ELL students, she speaks about working with students to develop positive attitudes about reading. Ms. Gonzales strives to foster enjoyment and a love of books in all children, but especially in students struggling with reading due to language or phonics skills. Victoria states, “Seeing a child grow from struggling with fundamental phonics to loving reading is my most rewarding moment. I love seeing my students independently organize a small group to read a book and they are laughing and enjoying the story. I am thrilled when two kids are reading and I hear them decide to sound out a word or reread a sentence. Then not only have I taught them to read, I have also created readers that enjoy books.”

Victoria consistently shares with students her role as a learner. She identifies new teaching strategies and communicates with students as to how these strategies were learned. Ms. Gonzales talks with her students about what she learns in iClass 21 and the Math Leadership Committee as well as classes that are attended with colleagues. Victoria believes that when a teacher models excitement about learning, students are excited to learn.

2016 Arizona ELL Teacher of the Year – Victoria Gonzales
2015 Arizona ELL Teacher of the Year – Karen Hurley     Video
2014 Arizona ELL Teacher of the Year – Raquel Tapia     Video
2013 Arizona ELL Teacher of the Year – Tara Smith     Video
2012 Arizona ELL Teacher of the Year – Melanie Conger     Video
2011 Arizona ELL Teacher of the Year – Jennifer Glueck
2010 Arizona ELL Teacher of the Year – Jennifer Stults
2009 Arizona ELL Teacher of the Year – Jayne Huseby
2008 Arizona ELL Teacher of the Year – Susan Jimenez
2007 Arizona ELL Teacher of the Year – Nancy Scruggs
2006 Arizona ELL Teacher of the Year – Lisa Wakefield
2005 Arizona ELL Teacher of the Year – Karen Merritt