Justice, US Supreme Court, 1902-32
Dr. J. A. Gonzalez is a teacher at heart. Put a marker in his hand and a blank whiteboard beside him and his eyes light up. Whether his audience is made up of students or fellow professionals, he relishes the opportunity to teach.
“I am fascinated with the art of teaching and learning,” he said. “Everyone is some kind of smart —be it mathematical, verbal, kinesthetic or musical. We all have a particular learning style and
it is our job, as educators, to help our students discover their talents and to build on their natural skill sets.”
Since August, 2016, when Dr. Gonzalez became Superintendent of Schools for McAllen Independent School District, the District has enjoyed some major accomplishments. Some of these include:
- The District earning an “A” designation by the Texas Education Agency
- Implementing a State & National award-winning Strategic Plan for the District
- Leading the District as the community passed a Tax Ratification Election with 76 percent voter approval
- The District earning the state’s Post-secondary Readiness Distinction in 2017 and 2018
- The District earning a School FIRST award for financial integrity with a perfect score in 2017 and 2018
- The District being named “Favorite School District” in The Monitor’s Readers’ Choice Awards in 2017 and 2018
- High schools ranked among “America’s Best High Schools” for the fourth straight year
- The District being nominated for Best Large District in Texas in H-E-B Excellence in
- Education Awards in 2018
- Serving a School Board which was nominated for School Board/Leadership Award in
H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards in 2019
- Sam Houston Elementary School earning a national Blue Ribbon Award nomination in 2019
- The District being named a national Best Community for Music Education for 2017, 2018 and 2019
“We’re a world-class district. In McAllen ISD, it’s not about programs,” Dr. Gonzalez said. “It’s about people and we have great people in this dynamic community and our district. The key is to work collectively to execute the vision for our district as we move deeper into the twenty-first century.”
In addition, Dr. Gonzalez has implemented many new programs and features. These include:
- Initiated creation of STEAM-Plus teaching and learning framework.
- Established elementary UIL, chess and robotics programs.
- Initiated the creation of Tech Wars in which high school students competed in a unique robotics competition in 2018 and 2019
- Built relationships with city, chamber of commerce and economic development corporation.
- Created a leadership model.
- Reduced payroll costs for 2016-17 by $1.3 million.
- Created McTalks framework to spotlight alumni, staff, and students.
- Established lifecycle replacement schedule for facilities and equipment.
- STRIDES Program
- Parent Education Program
- Moved CTE Program to Achieve Early College High
- Mental Health Fair
- Golf and Fishing tournaments to raise scholarship money
- Youth Apprenticeship Program through South Texas College and Chamber of Commerce
Dr. Gonzalez initiated the creation of STEAM-Plus in Pre-K-12 grades. This learning framework places a great emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math, including coding, rocketry, and robotics. STEAM-Plus also systematically addresses a child’s emotional intelligence. It focuses on the five key components of emotional intelligence – self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. McAllen ISD also continues to support the highly acclaimed International Baccalaureate Teaching and Learning Framework at elementary, middle, and high school levels. In fact, the IB Diploma Programme at Lamar Academy was awarded the IB School of Distinction Award in 2017.
A former state finalist for Principal of the Year and a participant in The Principals’ Center at Harvard University, Dr. Gonzalez has a wealth of experience and a passion for teaching. He has taught in the Educational Leadership Department as a Practicing Lecturer at the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV).
Dr. Gonzalez served as the District’s Associate Superintendent for Instructional Leadership from 2012-16. His primary role included coaching, supervising and evaluating all principals in the District. He has also served as a Principal, Assistant Principal, Teacher and Coach in multiple sports during his 23-year educational career (21 with McAllen ISD).
He is active in the community as well. Some of the professional clubs, organizations, and committees he serves on include:
- Texas Association of Secondary School Principals
- Golden Key International Honor Society
- Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society
- Honorary Member of the McAllen Rotary Club
- Member of Raise Your Hand Texas
- UTPA College of Education Advisory Committee
- The Principals’ Center Alumni (at Harvard University)
- Leadership McAllen- Class XXXIII (2014)
- Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Citizens Academy (2015)
- Member, Board of Directors for McAllen Chamber (2017-21)
- McAllen Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors
- Region One Regional Advisory Council of Superintendents: Executive Committee Member
- John Maxwell Team Certified Member (2018)
Born in Laredo, Dr. Gonzalez was raised in Hebbronville. He graduated from Texas A&M University—Kingsville with a Bachelor of Science in 1996 and earned a Master of Science in Educational Administration from the University of Texas-Pan American in 1999. Between 2000 and 2003, he earned his Mid-Management Administrator and Superintendent Certifications. His Doctor of Education with an emphasis in Educational Leadership was completed in 2008 through the University of Texas-Pan American.
On June 18, 2011, Dr. Gonzalez married Shahroo T. Gonzalez, a McAllen Memorial High School alumnus. He and his wife have three children – Joe Douglas (7), Samantha Isabella (6) and Joshua Jay (4).
McAllen ISD quick facts:
- 31 campuses
- 22,800 students
- 3,400 employees
- 1,600 teachers
- District area: 33 square miles