By Helene Martinez
Special to the CBN
In today’s society we often wonder what makes a great leader and what differentiates them from the everyday individual. Is it the leader that understands their employees and makes them feel important while demonstrating a positive side of change, or is it the leader that places the most emphasis on their team and is able to find success through them that makes all the difference? These are not the everyday questions we ask ourselves, nonetheless, being an efficient leader is an important trait we strive to have as men and women and even as youth. In effort to demonstrate the key aspects of an effective leader, the Hayden-Winkelman Unified School District has acquired such a principal that possesses both the necessary and demanding leadership characteristics. With the new changes to the school district, in particular the conjunction of the Leonor Hambly Middle School with the Winkelman Elementary, the school district presents Leonor Hambly K-8 and their passionate leader Principal Pamela Gonzalez.
In determining the name of the combining schools it was necessary to incorporate the leadership of Leonor Hambly and her legacy as being the first Hispanic Woman Administrator in the Hayden Schools. Leonor Hambly retired as a teacher and principal in 1966. Similar to Leonor Hambly’s leadership of the youth in the Hayden-Winkelman School District, Pamela Gonzalez acquired a degree in education which lead her to becoming a teacher. Continuing her education she received her Master’s degree in Counseling and is currently the High School Academic Counselor. Furthering her education she ultimately established her principal certification and is presently in her second year as principal.
Gonzalez and Hambly have both exemplified their desire to be a strong leader of the youth and throughout the years developed a passionate drive to enhance the school and students’ development.
For the 2013-2014 school years Principal Gonzalez generated high expectations for the Winkelman Elementary students, teachers, and herself. The expectation she instilled in the teachers was to become more data driven on not only the students’ progress but also in formatting their data. She strategized for all the teachers to obtain a portfolio so they could collect and record all their resources and curriculum. This strategy carried on to the students’ expectation of ensuring their accountability.
Through this implementation of the student portfolio they were able to be attentive to their daily progress and strive for personal improvement. With the expectations of the students and teachers in place, Principal Gonzalez put emphasis on her expectancy to improve the Winkelman Elementary label and make academic improvements. Through the strategies and procedures taken into action the Winkelman Elementary had begun to observe a positive change in the schools environment.
Early mornings began to turn into late nights as the teachers and Principal Gonzalez united as one in pursuit of successfully reaching their ultimate goal of achieving the students’ academic improvements. With the students’ best interest in mind, Principal Gonzalez made significant changes as the teachers would begin to use their strengths and teach in the mandated hour of Reteach. This hour was set aside in the afternoon for the teachers to be more available to the students on a one-on-one basis for the students to find gains in the subject of need or area of necessity. This allowed the teachers to unit as a unit and successfully provide a solid foundation of putting the students first, as Principal Gonzalez described. She continued to highlight the hard work and commitment of her team in working from bell to bell and most importantly the top priority of her students. Principal Gonzalez has a vision of her elementary becoming an A school in Gila County and knows that she must equip her team with staying positive, continuing to set goals and reaching goals, and mainly having all her team members be on board day in and day out.
There are still adjustments to be made and continued expectations and goals to be practiced but as Principal Gonzalez passionately states, “Every student matters and every minute counts,” as the 2014-2015 school year is about to begin. With the combining of the middle school and the elementary Principal Gonzalez again has high expectations for this upcoming school year. She describes how Kindergarten through fifth grade are a strong group of educators and the sixth grade through the eighth grade are also a strong group of educators. She is ready to make the Kindergarten through the eighth grade a collectively strong group of educators. As she transitions from the K-5 principal to the K-8 principal she is excited for the school year to get underway but at the same time she understands the mixed feeling of students and parents with the move. Therefore, Principal Gonzalez stipulates, “Have trust that we have your children’s best interest and they are our top priority. The team and I better ourselves daily to help our students find gains not only academically but socially and communally as a whole group. Our most essential goal is in the best interest of your child.” In accordance with the curriculum of the sixth grade through the eighth grade she plans to align her vision of expectations and goals across the board. With the curriculum developments for these target grades Principal Gonzalez has already formed the academic improvement strategies and procedures.
The ultimate goal in the leadership role of Principal Gonzalez is in understanding the successes of the youth and the necessary actions of being an effective leader. She is in complete understanding of the key components in reaching her goal of becoming an A school. The devotion, commitment, and loyalty are in high demand of her team. Principal Gonzalez defined this not as her job, nor her career, but what she views as her dream job. Her actions demonstrate her effectiveness as a leader which includes: making others feel important and invited, is positive even when change is needed, and primarily having the best interest in your child. Principal Pamela Gonzalez has a mission to improve the school, the students, the teachers, and herself as an administrator to continue learning and bettering themselves daily because at the Hayden-Winkelman Unified School District, “every student matters and every moment counts.”