MNPS Voices: Mercedes Gonzalez, Immigrant Youth Transition Specialist

From MNPS

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“It makes me happy every time I see a teacher and support staff combining efforts to make sure their students are happy and learning. I’ve seen it many times, and I am grateful to work with a great team that is open to finding new ways to make sure students have a clear and achievable path to success,” she said.

MNPS Voices: Mercedes Gonzalez, Immigrant Youth Transition Specialist, Office of English Learners

Born and raised in Boca del Monte, Veracruz, Mexico, Mercedes Gonzalez emigrated to the United States for safety and a better future, like many of the students we serve in Metro Nashville Public Schools.

“Thanks to the support that both core subject and EL teachers gave me, I was able to learn English, graduated from Overton High School, and I can now communicate in two languages,” Gonzalez said.

In 2017 Gonzalez saw an opportunity to work with immigrant families in MNPS. She started working in the Family Information Center as a bilingual call representative, where she was able to assist families both over the phone and in person.

Two years later, she moved to the Office of English Learners and started working as a registrar for our EL students.

“Since day one, I knew the EL department was the right place for me. They go above and beyond to support our most vulnerable group of students,” she said.

Gonzalez now serves as an immigrant youth transition specialist at the EL office, serving 10 high schools in the district as she supports recently arrived English learners.

“The best advice I can provide for any educator is to always share a word of motivation with any student they encounter. Many times, all they need is a word of encouragement to keep them going.”

In addition to her daily tasks, Gonzalez enjoys being a member of the EL Fellowship coordinated by MNPS colleague Megan Trcka. Along with a group of teachers, school staff and interpreters, she’s learning new ways to advocate for our most vulnerable students in the district.

Prior to joining MNPS, Gonzalez enjoyed volunteering for organizations in our community, including Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, that played a crucial role in assisting her in her journey as an immigrant. Another organization that has played a vital role in Gonzalez’s success is Justice for Our Neighbors.

“Thanks to these organizations, many immigrants like me were able and continue to accomplish their dreams and goals,” she said.

Outside of her busy work schedule, Gonzalez enjoys teaching entry-level English, along with the amazing EL tutoring groups, to our newly arrived English Learner students.

“Being a part of their journey,” she said, “motivates me every day to do better.”

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