TEACHER IN TRAINING — Zillah School District Paraprofessional Noe Gonzalez assists in laptop distribution for online distance learning at the middle school on Friday, April 24. Gonzalez is completing his first year in the educational program at Heritage University with plans on becoming a teacher.

ZILLAH — First year paraprofessional Noe Gonzalez has been on the frontline helping students in ways he never expected while learning how traditional teaching methods are expanding beyond the textbook to meet online instruction objectives, stay-at-home orders, and for one day becoming a teacher.

“Doing everything they ask is good for me because I want to become a teacher and that’s my main goal,” the Heritage University student conveyed as he assisted in distributing laptops at the middle school on Friday, April 24.

Gonzalez knew he wanted to be a teacher following his three-years of active duty service and medical retirement due to a back condition from the Army in 2016. As an Automated Logistical Specialist, he was responsible for warehouse and supply, receiving and documentation of materials stationed at Fort Drum in New York.

“It’s always been kind of a lifelong dream,” the New York Yankee baseball cap wearing veteran described. He was not going to allow his apprehension about attending college hold him back in pursuing his goal of helping kids.

“Right after the Army, I just went straight into school and have been achieving straight A’s ever since. And, I found my calling,” Gonzalez stated. He and his wife are in the process of purchasing a home in Zillah and becoming active community residents.

Having already obtained an associate degree, the Toppenish native and former Zillah student is now finishing the first of the two-year educational program and plans on being a teacher job shadow next spring with the hope of securing an educator position with the district.

The COVID-19 outbreak has not discouraged Gonzalez from helping kids in any role assigned or forced him to rethink his career aspirations. “Since this is different times, it’s a different measure. I enjoy being around the kids. And whatever I can do to help them, is the best duty for me.”

He acknowledged how the distance learning experience may one day aid with his ability to make the transition from teaching in the classroom to virtual instructor easier, should the opportunity arise again.

“What I like to see is the kids’ smiles after you do something for them or when they understand something that’s being taught, it’s the most powerful thing!”

Patrick Shelby can be contacted at 509-837-4500, ext. 110 or email PShelby@SunnysideSun.com

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