Although all three are looking forward to retirement and say they won’t miss the long hours required of a school administrator, they’ll take with them fond memories of their own school years, as well as the gratification of knowing they’ve impacted the education and lives of thousands of children.
“We lived across the street from De Zavala and before I even started school, I would go to lunch there with my mom. They had hot, homemade food and freshly baked pies and cake every day. Every year we had a Cinco de Mayo program that was a big community affair,” she said.
Years later, Salazar, who was then a teacher at the old Carver Elementary, accepted a position as a second grade bilingual teacher. However, an assistant principal position opened at Carver. After six weeks at De Zavala, Salazar was hired for the position and returned to Carver, beginning her administrative career.
Salazar will welcome her first grandchild this summer and is looking forward to being a full-time grandmother, as well as spending time with family and visiting different beaches.
“They loved teaching and they loved their students,” Smith said. “The respect I had for them made me want to become a teacher.”
Smith and her four siblings all attended Robert E. Lee High School, where Smith was Company Major of the Brigadiers. She described her family as being very proud Ganders.
Smith began her career as a Language Arts teacher at Baytown Junior in 1982. She also taught at Bowie Elementary and Austin. While she completed her master’s degree and administrative certification fairly early in her career, she had young children and didn’t feel the time was right to pursue an administrative career. However, after moving to Austin Elementary as a teacher in 1996, she progressed naturally to peer facilitator to assistant principal to being named principal in 2004, with the encouragement of former principal Barbara Wilson and superintendent Barbara Sultis. She’s been a fixture on the campus ever since.
“My goal was to complete 35 years, and I’m so proud that all 35 have been in Goose Creek,” said Smith. “It was a hard decision to retire because of the love I have for my job, the students and my colleagues, but I’m looking forward to traveling and spending some time with my family.”
“She taught us a work ethic and about being kind to others – things you need to be successful in life – in addition to academics,” Griffin said.
She became interested in being an administrator after taking classes for a principal certification at Region IV, and after her principal at the time, Rachel DeLeon, let her fill in some after an assistant principal left mid-year. She was also encouraged by her Highlands principal, Judy Duncan, to pursue the principalship.
“I’ll always remember the opportunity to open the new Clark campus,” Griffin said. “Dr. Clark was the superintendent when I started as a new teacher in GCCISD, and I really respected him. I have been blessed to be a part of the Goose Creek family all these years. I have worked with some of the best in education.
Consolidated Independent School District
4544 Interstate 10 East | Baytown, Texas 77521 | 281.420.4800
P.O. Box 30 | Baytown, Texas 77522 | 281.420.4800
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