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New MISD Bilingual/ESL Director Zabdi Gonzalez has Walked in the Shoes of the Students She Serves

Press Release|
Shane Mauldin|
Tuesday, May 16, 2017

McKinney, Texas –  When she walked into class for the first time as a fifth-grader, Zabdi Gonzalez didn’t speak English. Now, years later, she is the choice to lead McKinney ISD’s Bilingual/ESL Department.

Head shot of Zabdi GonzalezAlong the way, she hasn’t forgotten the journey that brought her here—or the life-changing difference that a teacher can make.

“I was a newcomer student from Mexico in a fifth-grade general education classroom, not knowing a word of English,” says Gonzalez. “My fifth grade ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher helped me learn the language and develop the skills needed to succeed academically and socially. To this day, I remember how I felt when I was able to win my first spelling bee in fifth grade as a result of his help.”

That small victory opened a path for success that would eventually lead to a high school diploma and then a bachelor’s degree and finally a master’s degree in education from Texas A&M University-Commerce. It led Gonzalez back to the elementary classroom for the first four years of her career as a bilingual teacher to serve students much like herself at Caldwell Elementary in Garland ISD.

It would lead her to Richland College in Dallas to serve as an adjunct professor in the Teacher Preparation Department from 2007–2010 while at the same time serving at Caldwell in Garland as assistant principal. And, finally, it would lead her to the principal job at the same school—a position she has held since 2011.

Now, with the departure of previous Director Judith Coffman, who left to pursue an opportunity with another district, Gonzalez has been hired by MISD as the district’s new Bilingual/ESL director, and her passion for serving students has not diminished with the passage of time.

“Our English language learners (ELL) undergo a difficult process to learn a second language, culture and life beyond academics,” Gonzalez said. “As educators, it is our responsibility to support our students through this process. My passion for helping English language learners is a result of my personal experience and challenges—as well as being part of this wonderful process with students for the last 15 years as a bilingual educator and administrator.

“My goal is that years from now, our ELL students will remember and credit part of their success to great MISD teachers who did not give up on them,” she said.

Suzy Woodard, MISD assistant superintendent of elementary student support, is pleased to bring Gonzalez onboard. “We are happy to welcome Zabdi to the team,” Woodard said. “Because of her personal experience, she’s got a passion for making sure that we are meeting the needs of all of our ELL students, and I think she’s got some great ideas. She’s got energy and enthusiasm, and she is ready to dive into our data and help us take the things that Judith Coffman accomplished and build on that to help us move to the next level.”

One can be sure that there will always be students like Gonzalez who walk into a classroom for the first time and don’t speak the language. And, when they do, the road before them can seem awfully long, confusing and difficult—until a teacher comes alongside, points the way and says, “Let me walk with you. You can do this.”

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If you need additional assistance with the content on this page, please contact MISD Communications Department team member Shane Mauldin by phone at 469-302-4007 or by email here .

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