Throughout her years with TUSD she has worked not only in the classroom but also with Dropout Prevention which targets at-risk youth to help them overcome the barriers they face so they may find success in school.
What do you feel is the greatest need for TUSD students currently?
Many families visiting us at the Duffy Clothing Bank or any of the four Family Resource Centers in TUSD, are experiencing difficult times. Many of our parents have been impacted by Covid in such a big way, some have lost their jobs and are trying to get back on their feet. When they come to the FRC, we help with community referrals, and thanks to donations we receive we can also provide much-needed resources. To be able to offer a student and their family a trip to our clothing bank where they can get brand new underclothing items gently used clothing and shoes is huge! They can also go shopping for a backpack, filled with school supplies and pick up a hygiene kit from EEF. With TUSD students returning to in-person learning for the upcoming school year, we will likely need all the help we can get to keep each FRC stocked and ready for families coming through to get prepared for an exciting school year. All the services we provide are free and it is our goal to never turn a family away because we are low on inventory, we depend on our Tucson Community to help us with donations such as shoes, gently used clothing, brand new underclothing, backpacks, and school supplies.
What role does EEF play in the success of students that you see directly?
Many of the day-to-day items needed to be successful in life that some of us may take for granted we can now provide to students and their families thanks to the wonderful work of the EEF. A student is unable to focus on learning if they are worried about shoes, clothes, school supplies, or even hygiene items—all of this is made possible by the EEF special programs and collaboration with the Family Resource Centers. Students and families will come to us for a “one-stop shopping experience” where we witness the important role of the EEF in impacting the lives of our TUSD students.
What is the greatest obstacle for the kids coming through your door?
In my experience, kids are resilient and as a Family Resource Center, it is our goal to help maintain continuity and progress in a child’s education as their families come across challenging times such as the loss of a job, running low on food and having difficulty paying for rent and utilities—at each Family Resource Center we are equipped to assist families during difficult times with the goal of removing barriers and keeping students in TUSD schools until graduation and beyond. If we can help support a student and their family with basic needs items such as food, clothing, hygiene items, community referrals, and offering classes for parents to help with their GED and English this in turn will assist them in becoming stronger advocates for their child throughout their education.
Why did you choose to join EEF’s board?
I joined the EEF Board to be able to impact the lives of students and families that are struggling the most in terms of basic needs resources. I wanted to provide a voice for those students that I worked with for so many years in my previous role with Dropout Prevention that need advocacy and support to help them overcome barriers to find success in school.
What do you love about EEF?
What I love most about the EEF is the diversity of the board. We have so many different backgrounds, different strengths, and talents finding ways to collaborate, bring in the community--all with the common purpose of enriching student learning in TUSD is what I love the most!
Lisa Gonzales is a native Tucsonan and a proud Tucson High School graduate! She is also an alum of the University of Arizona where she majored in Secondary Education and began her career in 1997 as a 7th grade Social Studies teacher in the Tucson Unified School District. Throughout her years with TUSD she has worked not only in the classroom but also with Dropout Prevention which targets at-risk youth to help them overcome the barriers they face so they may find success in school. More recently she serves as Program Coordinator with Family and Community Outreach in TUSD where she works to help connect families and students to the resources they may need, whether it is at any of the four Family Resource Centers in the District or within the surrounding Tucson community. In addition, Lisa has been an EEF board member for two years. Her experience has taught her that Family Engagement is the key to a child’s success in school. Lisa is a mother of 3 beautiful children, two of which are students at THMS. Lisa grew up and fell in love with the south side of Tucson and continues to reside in that area with her mother and children. The positions that Lisa has held within TUSD, have allowed her to build lifelong relationships with students and families in the Tucson community and she looks for every opportunity to advocate for them.