Horizon Heights Elementary School parent liaison Bonnie Soria Najera has been nominated by the National Education Association for the White House School Support Professional Champion of Change Award.
Najera, who last year was named the 2015-2016 Texas State Teachers Association Education Support Professional of the Year, will find out if she is a winner in April. If she is a Champion of Change, Najera will attend an awards presentation at the White House on May 11.
“The White House is looking for school support professionals in pre-K-12 and higher education who are doing extraordinary things every day in our nation’s schools,” said Lily Eskelsen, NEA president, in a statement. “We have nominated you because we believe the work you do for your students and community takes the vision of the whole student into action every day.”
Najera, who found out about the nomination recently, was shocked to be considered for the White House award.
“It is amazing just to be nominated,” Najera said.
Najera has been working as a parent liaison for the Socorro Independent School District for eight years. Her number one job is helping parents help their child achieve academic success, she said. But she also isbig on helping her school, the district and the community.
She hosts an annual Thanksgiving dinner for the people in the Sparks community. She was key in starting the citywide Uniform Swap and SISD’s Warm the Soul Shoe Drive after noticing a necessity at Horizon Heights.
“These are just a few examples of Bonnie’s acts of charity and kindness,” said Paso Del Norte Principal James Vasquez, who worked with Najera while he was Horizon Heights’s principal. “Her work goes far beyond what is listed in her job description. When she sees someone in need, not only does she take action, but she organizes and gets the whole community involved.”
Horizon Heights principal Jenifer Hansen is impressed with Najera’s desire to improve the lives of those less fortunate.
“Her passion to serve has made a difference not only in the lives of children, but in the members of the community,” said Hansen, who has worked with Najera for six years. “She truly is deserving of this honor.”
Najera takes all the accolades in stride. Her main concern is to help others, especially students.
“I just want to open people’s eyes to the things that are happening around them,” Najera said. “Sometimes they don’t know what is happening in a child’s life. Maybe there is no food to eat or no place for them to stay. The family may not have money for new shoes. I want people to become aware of what is happening so they can say ‘How can we help the kids?’ ”
Whether she wins or loses the White House award, Najera plans to continue reaching out to make life better for those in the community around her.
“There is so much help needed out there,” she said “What we do and say can make a difference in people’s lives. That’s why if someone needs me, I am there.”