Elizabeth Maldonado uses her experiences as a student as well as an educator in her efforts to better how children are taught in her community. Having grown up in a neighborhood that lacked resources, Elizabeth Maldonado developed a passion for teaching in low income areas, where students are often overlooked and slip through the cracks of the educational system. Elizabeth Maldonado places every effort into her work. Her efforts are inspired by the need to ensure that her students and children will grow up into a world that values the right to a fair education for everyone, no matter class, race or gender.
What is your educational background? Describe your college experience and how it helped you prepare for your career.
I had always wanted to be teacher. For as long as I can remember, teachers have always positively influenced my life. Thus, after graduating from Jefferson High School, I attended The University of Texas at El Paso with that goal in mind. I don’t think I was mature enough to take college serious and frankly, it took a long time to complete my bachelors degree. The inspiration I had to complete my degree was because I was a full time mom to two girls and I wanted to be a good role model. After completing my degree, I returned three times to the university to earn additional certification (ESL Endorsement); Masters in Education in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students with Special Needs; and then additional certification in Educational Leadership. I believe I am a lifelong learner and because of this, one must not remain stagnant because every new thing you learn only makes you better in your career.
How did you find your current job?
I would say the job finally found me. Growing up in south central El Paso and actually attending the school where I am now the principal was not an accident, but was intentional. As a middle school student, I promised I would return to my school and give back to my community. For the longest time, I forgot this promise. When I least expected it, the position for principal was open. This was at the right time in my life and when I felt I was truly ready for the challenge. So, I really think people should give back to their community once they have the ability to do so whether it be in volunteerism, resources, or mentoring, one should never forget their roots.
What did you do to prepare for this career?
I focused on my education first and foremost, but also on my experience as a teacher. I truly believe that a good teacher makes a good leader. Also, I work very hard. I am passionate about what I do and I truly love the position I am in, this is the best preparation ever.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Interacting with the students; Middle school students are unique. They are coming to their own at this age and are so interesting. This is the best part of my job, just interacting with them whether it be at a game, a dance, lunch, or in the classroom, they never fail to surprise me with their antics.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is the lack of resources education has in general. When you work in a school that is unique such as mine, you must be an advocate for the students, teachers, and community. Monetary resources are scarce and sometimes not equitably dispersed. I find that I must really fight for the little I get because it is in a lower income area.
What advice would you give to help a girl prepare for a job like yours?
Reflect to really know that this is the type of position you want to enter. Not only will you meet the challenges of inequity simply because of gender, but also because of race. Although we have come a long way as Latina women, there are still many barriers to overcome. Thus, get an education. With education, a Latina woman can do anything. Maintain your family relationships. It is with their support and encouragement that you will succeed. Learn to persevere. Our culture is slowly undergoing a paradigm shift. In a marriage, be careful to marry or co-exist with the right partner. The traditional Hispanic roles of the mother being the one who cooks, cleans and rears children must change if you are to have a successful career.
What do you do for fun when you aren’t working?
When I am not working, I like to spend time with the family obviously. But also, one must hone their own interests. I love going to movies or watching movies and collecting key quotes from movies. I know it’s a little strange, but I have been doing this for quite a while. I also love spending time in the outdoors camping. Although my idea of camping is sleeping in an RV. I love to read. I LOVE music and collecting music.