In the heart of Los Angeles, Roberto Gonzalez can be seen after school running along the Silverlake reservoir surrounded by middle school students huffing and puffing. Gonzales is not a physical education teacher, as one might expect. He is, in fact, a 7th -grade science teacher at Virgil Middle School in Los Angeles, CA. Each year, Gonzales coaches roughly 25 Virgil students as part of Students Run LA, a program for students to train to run the LA marathon. Gonzalez takes training very seriously, whether it's prepping students for 26.2 miles or gearing up for the next science exam.
As science department chair at Virgil Middle School, Gonzalez directs a 12-person team of science teachers in addition to his classes. Under his leadership, the department nearly tripled student achievement on California Standardized Testing (CST) and submitted the highest scores in LAUSD for CST for middle schools in 2007-08. The science department has the highest gains in the school.
Gonzalez is steadily working to improve other departments as well. He was instrumental in the school's recently implemented FLEX schedule that incorporates student intervention, study hall and enrichment into the school day, rather than relegating it to after-school hours. Teacher turnover at Virgil Middle School is high, so Gonzalez always mentors at least two new teachers, guiding and providing support in the somewhat intimidating inner-city environment, where almost 90 percent of students qualify for free and reduced-price lunch programs. Gonzalez seeks to continue his own professional development as well, recently enrolling in UCLA's Principal Leadership Institute.
2003 University of Notre Dame, B.S.