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Getting to know Shimotsu’s interim principal

This article originally ran in the March 10 issue of the Progress Times. 

Elizabeth Gongora has been the Shimotsu Elementary interim principal for about a month, and her focus has been ensuring the students and employees have everything they need. 

“Each day has given me opportunities to connect with others: students, teachers, parents, campus and district staff,” Gongora said via an email interview. “Our focus has been to provide the necessary support for students and their teachers to continue on the road of excellence each day.”  

Gongora became interim principal following the sudden reassignment of former Shimotsu principal Anthony Limon. Vocal community members continue to oppose the reassignment, but she and the district have taken steps to communicate with parents. Not long after taking over the position, SISD held a meet and greet with Gongora and the community to ease them into the transition. 

Courtesy photo. Students at Shimotsu Elementary welcome Elizabeth Gongora after the district named her interim principal.

The 53-year-old is from Donna, Texas, but she has been part of the Sharyland community for about nine years. She has 29 years of educator experience as a teacher, a librarian, a principal and in professional development. But where she thrives is her background in bilingual and English Second Language programs. 

“I have always enjoyed teaching and helping others gain the skills they need to be successful in creating and reaching their goals (personal, academic and professional),” she wrote. “Bilingualism is advantageous in our community and worldwide. It offers us greater opportunities for employment and connecting with others. In this region, for many, it allows for the continuance of cultural connections with our family.” 

Before Gongora took on the interim principal role, she was the Sharyland ISD bilingual and ESL coordinator. And she still is. The educator is balancing both roles as principal and coordinator for the district. She said it has been another opportunity to serve the community, and she was blessed to have been selected for the ESL coordinator position all those years ago. 

Although some of the community hesitates to accept her in the role, Gongora hopes her reputation with Sharyland ISD helps dispel any concerns people may have about her. During her short term as interim, she said her goal is to continue working with the community, students, parents and employees to keep the traditions of Shimotsu Elementary. 

“I have served the district for nine years, and I continue to be committed to collaborate and provide the guidance and support educators and students need to continue to be successful through the remainder of this school year,” she said. “I am a true servant leader that believes all students can and want to learn, and I am here to help facilitate that process by offering support.” 

Gongora expressed gratitude for the welcoming gestures and support from the students, staff and the Shimotsu Sharyland Parent Teacher Student Organization Officers. 

“Although the interim principalship is a temporary position for me, I am thankful for the trust the school board, Superintendent Dr. Maria M. Vidaurri and other individuals have demonstrated in selecting me to serve the school community of Shimotsu Elementary,” Gongora said in her email. “I am thankful for the amazing students, parents and staff who have welcomed me and demonstrated that excellence every day is truly the Shimotsu way.” 

The SPTSO holds public meetings every first Thursday of the month at Shimotsu at 5:30 p.m. Anyone in the community may attend. Gongora said they discuss an array of topics and allow for Q&A time. 

Additionally, the interim principal will perform a facilities walkthrough with the central administration team at the end of the month to address campus needs.

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