Mar 01, 2019

Relay Resident Spotlight: Cris Margaret Gonzalez

Cris Gonzalez

PLEASE TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF.

I immigrated from the Dominican Republic to the Bronx with my mother and sister when I was 5 years old. My mother always put an emphasis on schooling and made sure we had all that we needed to be successful in the classroom. This passion for education helped me become the first person in my family to graduate from college in May 2016. In 2020, I will be the first to graduate from graduate school. All my life I knew I wanted to give back to the community and country that was able to offer me and my family so much. After college, I worked in Ohio on Hillary Clinton's campaign at Ohio State University. I soon realized that I wanted to have a more direct and positive impact on children and their future. I began as a member of the operations team at Success Academy and I currently work at a 5th grade ELA Fellow at KIPP Washington Heights Middle School.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO DO THE WORK THAT YOU DO?

When I entered the Loomis Chaffee School (a private boarding school in Windsor, CT) after attending public school all my life, I noticed an achievement gap that I had not been exposed to before. I was at the top of my class in all my previous years in school and found myself struggling to stay afloat. On the other hand, my wealthier, white classmates seemed to know material that I had never been introduced to. This experience helped me understand that children like me deserved better -- that our family's wealth or background should not dictate our access to a great education. I teach because of the opportunity and achievement gap that exists in the United States. These gaps in our school system push me to do right by my students.

HOW HAS RELAY HELPED YOU TO BECOME A MORE IMPACTFUL TEACHER?

Relay has given me all of the tools, resources, and practice that I needed to have a successful first year in the classroom. The skills and strategies I have learned around building relationships with my students and how to approach the content have made all the difference in my classroom.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT TEACHING IN YOUR CITY/TOWN?

I love that i'm able to teach students who come from a similar background as me and who face some of the same challenges that I faced in my early childhood. I grew up coming to Washington Heights frequently as a kid and it holds a very special place in my heart. Now, I live in the area most of my students have lived all their lives -- it doesn't get any better than that for me.

TELL US ONE WORD THAT YOU WOULD USE TO DESCRIBE YOUR STUDENTS. WHAT INSPIRES OR RESONATES WITH YOU ABOUT THEM THE MOST?

My students are resilient. They come to school prepared to learn every day regardless of their circumstances outside of school. They are able to bounce back from difficult situations. I am inspired everyday by my students ability to show grit in all areas of their lives.

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