Janette Rivera Gonzalez, a first grade teacher at Longmont’s Northridge Elementary School, uses her experiences as an immigrant to connect with her students and their families.
She moved here from Mexico at 15, attending Lyons Middle/Senior and then graduating from Longmont High. She became a teacher’s aide in St. Vrain Valley, then earned her teaching degree — and later a master’s degree — from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
“There was one teacher who made a difference in my life,” she said. “I want to do the same for my students. I know what it’s like not knowing the language. I tell them, ‘If I can do it, you can do it.’ “
Rivera Gonzalez recently was named the Teacher of the Year by the Education Foundation for the St. Vrain Valley. While the annual in-person Tribute to Teachers event was canceled amid the coronavirus, Rivera Gonzalez and the other finalists from each school were celebrated in a YouTube video.