Education is an invaluable force for the health and strength of rural communities. Osbaldo (Ozzie) Gonzalez, a first-year, Dual Language elementary teacher in Nyssa, Oregon, knows this first-hand. Growing up just down the road from where he now teaches, Ozzie wanted to contribute back to the towns of Eastern Oregon’s Treasure Valley:
I actually grew up in Ontario and went to school in Ontario my entire life. I love Ontario, but I decided to come here because it felt new, completely new to me. The community of teachers that I have here is incredible. It's amazing. I do love my other schools. It just felt like it was a new place for me to work. And I kind of liked that aspect about it.
“It's okay to be yourself. It's okay to like whatever you like. I want them to know that it's okay, and it's celebrated with me.”
Everybody’s path into education is unique, and while he loves his job now, Ozzie hadn’t always planned on becoming a teacher. Through some encouragement from his peers, he acted on the power they saw within him to be a teacher leader:
My friend, she helped me realize that it was something very apparent in my life and she's like, ‘Just find something you love to do.’ And I did always love to teach. I was always a tutor, a math tutor, in college and it felt so cool helping all the students out. And I even went a step further and I helped with a GED program for Spanish speakers so they could get educated and they could get their GED so they don't have to just live their life without a high school education, at least.
That opened my eyes to a lot of stuff and it felt important and I felt my importance. I got super into it, and I started, and I finished, and I graduated from EOU. It was a weird loop but I got to somewhere I’m really happy.
We appreciate the willingness of teachers like Ozzie to share their stories and experiences with us and hope these stories bring some inspiration to your day! If you would like to share 30 minutes of your time for an interview, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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