Out of 1,200 educators in Texas, Calk-Wilson Elementary School’s Vanessa Gonzalez was one of six to win a lifetime membership to Crunch Fitness and be recognized as one of the gym’s Educators of the Year.
Gonzalez, a third-grade teacher, said the recognition is a humbling experience.
“My passion is to teach,” Gonzalez said. “I love children and, in my eyes, I don’t do anything out of the ordinary for my students. To be recognized by my community, it’s a wonderful feeling.”
In April, Crunch Austin, a franchise of the workout company, announced it would give awards to six educators based off nominations. Winners would receive a membership for life plus $200 toward classroom supplies.
Principal Sheila Thomas said Gonzalez is a fabulous teacher and if she could, she would clone her.
“Parents request her all the time,” Gonzalez said. “She has an excellent reputation with teaching. In my eyes, she’s a natural born teacher.”
Gonzalez has been with Corpus Christi ISD and Calk-Wilson Elementary for eight years. Originally a kindergarten teacher, she has taught first grade and now teaches third.
When she heads to Crunch Fitness to work out, Gonzalez goes with a group of friends to motivate, compliment and boost each other. It was that group who nominated her.
“They had told me they were going to nominate me, but I didn’t think anything would come of it,” Gonzalez said. “Then I got an email informing me I was nominated. Then a month later I got another one saying I was selected as one of the six. It was mind-blowing.”
According to a Facebook post from Corpus Christi’s Crunch Fitness, Gonzalez was hand-selected by the gym leaders.
“The impact that Vanessa has made for her students and their parents is unmeasurable,” the post said.
Gonzalez said she was told to visit the gym to pick up a gift basket, but was greeted with a surprise.
“I was going in there expecting to talk with them, but there was a whole celebration for me,” Gonzalez said. “It’s truly a wonderful opportunity to represent Corpus Christi and fitness.”
Not only does Gonzalez believe fitness is good for your physical health, she believes it is good for your mental health as well.
“Your health is important,” Gonzalez said. “A lot of people are apprehensive to go to the gym because they can feel intimidated. I don’t want people to feel that they can’t do anything. It takes just one step to make goals; anyone can do it.”
Gonzalez said she is the educator she is today because of her fellow teachers and administration.
“We’re a family and we work together to help the kids,” Gonzalez said. “If I deserve it, all of them deserve it too. It’s a lot of hard work and dedication we do. We empower our kids to make the next generation better and show them what they’re capable of doing.”
John Oliva covers education and community news in South Texas. Consider supporting local journalism with a subscription to the Caller-Times.