“To me, she was a good teacher because as kindergarteners we didn’t know how to behave, but she always had a lot of patience with us.” -Eduardo, Class of 2023
“She is really, really funny.” -Juan, Class of 2024
“She helps me with my tricky words.” -Stephany, Class of 2026
“She’s a good teacher because she lets us talk about the life cycle of water or ladybugs or butterflies.” -Ian, Class of 2025
Ms. Mayra Gonzalez, KIPP Explore kindergarten teacher, has distinguished herself as someone who consistently gets results, builds strong relationships, and always "goes beyond Z" (meaning she always goes above and beyond). Mayra has been at KIPP Explore since 2010 when she started as a teaching fellow and has been a part of the kindergarten team ever since.
Mayra was recently selected to receive the Kinder Excellence in Teaching Award which awards outstanding teachers, earning $20,000.
Walking into Mayra’s classroom, the sound of learning is apparent. Sophie and Nataly are sitting in the library with their teacher glasses on reading books; Vanessa is helping a friend review their tricky words; and Ian is immersed in a book about weather, his latest topic of interest. Matthew and Jaret sit with Ms. Gonzalez on the carpet working on phonics practice while Bradwin and Serenity work on Compass Learning on their Chromebooks, receiving on-level, individualized instruction. Every student in Mayra’s classroom is immersed in learning, using every minute to meet their big goals. Her class consistently operates with a strong sense of urgency to build academics and character.
After the initial MAP, Fountas, and Pinnell assessments at the beginning of the year, Mayra spent hours analyzing data to ensure that she had a plan for each of her students to reach their big goals. Because of this urgency and her adherence to the value “commit,” Mayra has made significant gains with her students. This year for MAP Math, Mayra had 91.7% of her students make typical growth with 58.3% of her students meeting their magnitude of growth goals. In MAP Reading, she had 79.2% of her students meet typical growth with 62.5% of her students meeting their magnitude of growth goals. Mayra’s commitment to the core value of “excel” has been seen time and time again. She has consistently had at least 90% of her students meet their end of the year reading level goals, some of the highest results on her team.
In order to get these results, Mayra consistently demonstrates the value of “persist” and builds transformative relationships with students and families. When a student was struggling to complete homework, Mayra made an extra home visit so that she could teach the student’s entire family how to help her with her homework. She continued to communicate with the family on a daily basis to ensure that they had every tool available to be a partner in the student’s success. She supports her students in every endeavor, attending baseball games, birthday parties, and dance events.
In addition to building strong relationships with families, Mayra took an active role in building relationships with the three new kindergarten Big KIPPsters (teachers) this year, exemplifying the value of “honor.” As an Explore veteran, Mayra acted as a mentor to the new teammates, ensuring that they understood everything they needed to be successful at Explore. For teammates who needed help with translating conversations, she always made herself available, becoming a key connection for many Spanish speaking families.
Mayra is a critical asset to the Explore Team and Family and KIPP as a whole. She is urgent yet kind, thoughtful yet productive, humble yet dynamic.
To read more about our other Kinder Excellence in Teaching winners, click on the links below.