Category: Staff Profile


Teachers point of view

From a young age, Alicia Castan knew she wanted to become a student educator. Life led her into motherhood first, while raising her children introduced her to her classroom goals. 

Today Alica Castan is a teacher at The Care Academy at Jimmy Carter ECHS where she continues to live out the dream she has had since she was just a little girl.

“When I was growing up I really wanted to work with students at a campus. I wanted to be a teacher, I wanted to teach students, it was my dream job. I see myself later on in the future working with students, I think it is one of my passions. I really don’t want to do anything else,” Castan said.

Catan’s lifelong dream has led her to become motivated about teaching, as she sees this being her only career in the future.

However, Castan’s plans weren’t to teach just any students. Her aspiration was to teach students with disabilities. Seeing her children grow up by her side, she wanted to do more and teach them everything and anything. Knowing students with disabilities have a harder time than other students, she knew the path to take to be able to help these students.

“I love my job, I enjoy working with special needs kids because they are sweet and nice students, they have so much potential,”

Castan said. Although it takes longer to teach students with disabilities, this is no problem for Castan.

“It is a great opportunity to learn how to be patient and teach them hand-in-hand,” Castan said.

Castan loves her students and the association she has acquired with them within the two years she has been teaching. Always wanting to teach students, Castan makes the most out of her experience as a teacher creating bonds with her students.

“It is really fun because they say so many things, they joke and do different things, and before you know it, you’re just laughing. I really enjoy working in this position,” Castan said.

Brenda Trevino Recognized as Jimmy Carter ECHS Teacher of the Year

We would like to congratulate Ms. Brenda Treviño, our Biology instructor, for representing Jimmy Carter as Teacher of the Year for the 2019-2020 school year. During Teacher Appreciation Week, we would like to thank her and all of our Jimmy Carter and La Joya ISD Faculty who provide exceptional instruction day-in and day-out for our students. Thank you! #ThankATeacher#TeacherAppreciationWeek2020#LJISDShineBright#RedWolfPride

Carter’s AVID Teacher Shares Story About Her Profession and Immigration

“While I was flying over to America from the Philippines, I was discombobulated. At some point, I wanted to go back home, but I thought of all the sacrifices that led me to where I stand. I just closed my weary eyes and prayed for the best of what’s waiting for me in the ‘Land of Milk and Honey,'” said Bangsalud.

Fel Bangsalud shares her story about her professional achievement and the transition from her Philippine to American citizenship. Bangsalud serves as Jimmy Carter Early College High School’s Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) teacher.

“AVID is a class that helps to close the achievement gap by preparing students for college readiness and be successful in society,” she said.

Bangsalud arrived in the United States in August 2002, hoping to become more professionally accomplished and earn more money.  However, it took a lot of relinquishing from her part to successfully come to America. 

“It was an extensive wait for the processing of papers, and it was also expensive. My mother had to lend me her retirement money, which I would later pay once I was stable, and my husband had to sell one of his properties,” she stated. “My family was not with me for nine months since they had to wait for their visas. It was burdensome, but the challenging part was leaving my young children behind.”

Bangsalud was 33 years old when she made the voyage and had obtained her master’s degree as an educator.  Since her arrival, she has been an employee at La Joya ISD. It took her ten years to be an American citizen. 

“That day I renounced my Philippine citizenship to be an American, I felt like I was betraying my country,” she said. “I cried out of sadness and happiness as I was renouncing and embracing something new.”     

She reclaimed her being a Filipino when she applied and was granted dual citizenship.  

“Having dual citizenship has its advantages and disadvantages. One of the disadvantages is that you have to pay taxes in both countries, and one of the advantages is that you can enjoy the benefits of any citizens in the Philippines and the USA.”

In the 16 years of working at La Joya ISD, Bangsalud accomplished many things in her profession, such as being an educator for students with special needs in the Resource and Inclusion classrooms, Content Mastery, Functional Life Skills Unit, and Social Adjustment Unit.

“Not many people can say they have accomplished such levels of knowledge and skill, and I’m very grateful for the opportunities La Joya ISD  had afforded me,” she said.

Her colleagues have regarded her as someone very positive.

“Students feel comfortable asking her questions, she is very qualified, and she follows the rules,” Mila Obnial said. “She is patient, kind, teaches important study skills, and she helps students in all content areas,” added Eliza Navarro. “She is kind, hard-working, and she loves her job,” said Vanessa Brown.

Although Bangsalud has attained her American dream, she wishes to return to her birth nation when she retires.

“I am more of a provincial type than an urban one. I miss my exciting rustic life back in the Cordilleras, the verdant environment, rice fields,  fresh air,  and the rain!”                                                                                                                                                                                                                         


Evangelina Garza: Para Que No Trabajes Como Un Burro

She was embarrassed, just waiting for me to arrive, she didn’t want me to see her house. It was shortly after seven in the morning before the UIL meet when I finally arrived, an inspired young lady, Evangelina Garza.
She welcomed me to her house where she sat on a torn, moldy mattress on the dirt floor. She was surprised that I was not shocked by her house, I didn’t give an ugly look when I saw her room and her sisters separated with only a curtain, nor did I say anything about the dirty floors and walls.

But when I saw her trophy case as the center of her house I smiled and winked at her.

Said Evangelina Garza.
Evangelina Garza Substituted Assistant Principal

Currently severing as a substitute assistant principal Evangelina Garza has made many want to be better individuals. She has taught her former students to value education and to take advantage of every opportunity given.

Mrs. Garza, Carter’s vice principal is a retired professional. Her long trajectory of success speak and say a lot of who she is today.
Mrs. Garza worked at East Academy where she was tough but fair. She worked at Juarez-Lincoln where she loved her students and taught many that humble beginnings can lead to a long meaningful life. Her work ethic at Cesar Chavez and Memorial middle school showcased the true meaning of being a professional educator. While at Cavazos Elementary Mrs. Garza, with her personal stories, hoped to inspire young students to dream big.

Growing up as she saw her parents work hard they constantly told her “Para que no trabajes como un burro,” that build her character and inspired her to get an education no matter the obstacles she has to face. To Mrs. Garza being Mexican-American doesn’t limit you to achieve your dreams.

“Our culture, those guys from Mexico, all of those immigrants that are crossing are super bright especially in math, so we have nothing to fear. We might have difficulty in speaking because we don’t practice the English language, but other than that “no nos ganan en nada.” Mrs. Garza said.

Although Mrs. Garza encourages any student she comes in contact with to follow their dreams and get an education she has a special bond with students from La Joya. She like many students from this district come from humble beginnings she is from the “Rancho” as she calls it, Sullivan City.

“I want you to achieve. I want you to get ahead.” Mrs. Garza said. “ If your mother works hard and your father works hard why shouldn’t you.”

By being strict she teaches students how to be responsible and to not waste time. Sometimes she may yell because “es que soy de rancho, acarriaba vacas y a las cabras”.
Macarena Hernandez a former student of Mrs. Garza is a perfect example of the impact Garza can have on students. Macarena is a journalist that focuses on Latino issues such as immigration and education. Macarena now teaches at Baylor University.

Many of the staff at Carter have come into contact with Garza during her accomplished stay with La Joya ISD. Mr. Arias, pre-Calculus teacher, is an example of someone who was her student and has come into success.

“Mrs. Garza taught me to be responsible and always to be prepared to do my best. She was strict but fair and a nice lady; she expected us to do our best. She was very approachable.

At Jimmy Carter Garza hopes to better the school’s culture to keep it as a distinguished school.

Garza’s passion to make a difference for her students is incredible. She puts her heart a soul into education to help students achieve their American Dream.


Teacher of the Year: Leslie Gonzalez

Mrs. Leslie Gonzalez is a freshmen teacher who has dedicated her time and hard work to her students for the past six years, and she continues to do so. She recently was named Teacher of the Year by way of votes from her colleagues.

Because of her accomplishment, many of her coworkers have expressed how proud they are of her, and they have shown the great admiration they have towards her. One of her colleagues, Mrs. Milal Obnial, acknowledges the variety of great things Mrs. Gonzalez has done for the school.

“Even though Mrs. Gonzalez and I am not of the same grade level team, I always know her to be helping students, for example, the time that there was a donor of a lot of gowns that the ladies can use for their prom She just thought of giving it to the students at Jimmy Carter. Another situation I also remember about some students who were graduating and they don’t have the caps and gowns for their graduation, and she found some sponsors and helped those students, so in other words, she is a teacher who would always think about the welfare of the students,” said Mrs. Obnial.

The effort that Mrs. Gonzalez shows the school and students with both personal and academic challenges is evident with her contribution to projects that help students and families with financial needs. She is motivated to help her students become successful individuals in society. Overall, she decided to become a teacher to influence students positively.

“What inspired me to become a teacher was the realization that as a teacher I could impact young minds not just in school, but far beyond the classroom. I’ve always wanted to work with teenagers, and I wanted to have the opportunity to influence their lives in a positive way. What better way than by being their teacher, mentor and role model.” Mrs. Gonzalez said.


Counselors Week

The American School Counselor Association celebrates school counselors around the nation during National School Counseling Week, February 4th-8th.

This week honors school counselors for the important role they play in college, career readiness, and in helping students examine their talents, strengths, abilities, and interest.

Take a moment to thank your counselor for supporting and guiding you.

Because of Mrs. Salinas, Carter’s counselor; we can learn, love, and become better people.

“Counseling means being there for students when they need that ‘ear’ for someone to listen to them. Mrs. Salinas helps me get the classes I require and she is always there when I need her, ” said Mayra Flores.


English Teacher Wins $4,000

On, Wednesday, October 24, 2018, Mrs. Leslie Gonzalez, 9th grade English teacher, was awarded a grant of $4,000 from the Educational Excellence Foundation. This foundation’s purpose is to provide students with financial support for educational necessities.

Mrs. Gonzalez said, “The grant offers great opportunities for teachers to increase the learning environment in their class that benefits the students.”

The Educational Excellence Foundation mission is to support, enhance, and promote excellent educational opportunity, programs, and incentives for students and teachers of La Joya ISD.

Mrs. Leslie Gonzalez said, “I want to enhance learning opportunities for my students by integrating the use of Chromebooks in my classroom. Students will have easier access to online resources, be involved in interactive lessons, and stay engaged while getting prepared for the digital workforce that keeps increasing.”

Mrs. Gonzalez plans on purchasing 15-20 Chromebooks for her students to utilize in class to further enhance their education.


Jennifer Garza

Jennifer Garza

Recipient of Grow with Google Challenge Scholarship. Garza will be a certified Front-End Web Developer which will arm her with HTML, CSS, Javascript and other web programming skills.

•Full-time mom Full-time teacher

•Candidate in Computer Science MA Program, UTRGV

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