Michael Garza was named the new Gonzales High School principal a few weeks ago and the retired Airman is already leaving his imprint as he tries to implement important changes to the school.
Before coming to Gonzales, Garza worked at Seguin ISD and before that Judson ISD. Prior to his career as an educator, he spent nine years and nine months in the Air Force, “guarding nuclear weapons, generals, expensive planes,” as he explained.
“My ultimate goal, when I first got out of the Air Force, my ultimate goal was to always be a high school principal,” Garza said. “I wanted to be a high school principal because once I started to learn what was going on with high school students and being a teacher, I wanted to make sure my students were prepared and had a skill when they left high school.”
“As a high school principal, there’s a lot of responsibility placed on us to ensure these students are well prepared to sustain life after school,” he continued. “That is my job, that is the job of my administrative team, job of my teachers, the coaches, if they move on as athletes, our job is to make sure students are prepared when they no longer have the comfort of really understand that this is beyond a job.”
Garza wants to stick to the core values he’s learned in the Air Force and implement them in everything he does. Integrity, service before self and excellence in all we do are values that are important for him while working with students and teachers.
In terms of service before self, Garza understands that the ultimate goal for an educator is for the students to leave Gonzales High as prepared as they can be for the real world.
“As administrators, as teachers, our service is to provide these students with an education and that’s what we’re going to do,” he said. “That’s why I’m going to make sure my administrative staff and my teachers understand that it’s service before self. It’s not about what we did or what we can do or egos or anything, it’s about service to our students.”
One of Garza’s focuses for Gonzales High is to increase their cultural awareness.
“I think changing the culture and how we respond to each other and how we respond to students is huge,” he said. “[Gonzales ISD Superintendent John] Schumacher said it clearly, for us to walk on our campus, just do our jobs. That’s what we’re going to do. Being a part of a positive culture builds a lot, whether you’re a winning football team, winning basketball team, winning UIL events, whatever it is, a positive culture continues to grow within students.”
Another key focus is adding more classroom minutes. Garza and his administrative staff have looked at the schedule and made some adjustments.
“Right now we have eight-period days, we’ll go to a 35-minute lunch and we’ve added 25 minutes to the instructional part of each day,” Garza explained, “so students will get 25 more minutes a week in instruction, so we’ve gained that for the student.”
“Gaining those extra minutes, whether it’s minutes a day or over a week of time, just provides that student more opportunities to succeed,” he said. “Every minute is crucial, and to add 25 minutes over a week timeframe gives that teacher 25 more minutes to make that kid or help that student grow. It’s about growth.”
And growth is indeed the goal for a school district growing through change. Garza knows this and wants to shift the focus to a “growth mindset.”
“I am honored to be here, I’m excited to be here,” he said. “I’m ready to serve our students, our teachers and our community 100 percent each and every day.”