Written by: Dinorah Peña-Durán

Have you noticed that this school year in Irving ISD we are dedicated to highlighting the “Game Changers”? That is, those people who, through their extraordinary work and dedication, are making a difference in our district. Well, today I am going to share with you the story of Elia Victoria, the dynamic Parent Liaison at F. M. Gilbert Elementary School.

Michael A. Victoria, then as a kindergarten student at F. M. Gilbert ES.

Like most parent liaisons, when her son Michael started kindergarten, Ms. Victoria opted to register as a volunteer parent upon seeing the possibility of helping at her son’s school.

For four consecutive years, Ms. Victoria stood out as a reliable and dedicated volunteer. She helped with all the work presented to her. She spent countless hours during the daytime or afternoons at school. She was always giving a hand to those who needed it and being an outstanding volunteer.

When asked how she became the Parent Liaison for F. M. Gilbert Elementary, Elia emotionally tells us that it all started with a promise she made to her son. Michael, still a little boy, assumed that his mother had attended high school. Elia did not deny it. Thinking about the values that she wanted to instill in her son, such as always telling the truth, she decided to confess that she had not really studied high school. “Excuse me for omitting the truth, son, I promise you that I will get my high school diploma; I don’t know how long it will take, but I’ll make it through.”, she told Michael.

With the support of the then school principal, Elia approached Mr. Vo, a 5th grade teacher at Gilbert ES, and asked if he could tutor her to prepare her for her GED test. The teacher’s response was immediately yes, and that she could take it as a return for support as a volunteer. Every day after school, Mr. Vo taught her language arts, social studies, science and math, one hour a day. Until the day that, due to the pandemic, classes had to stop.

Elia with Mr. Vo, who helped her prepare for her GED exam.

She took her exam and passed it! And she kept the words of the teacher and tutor in a special place: “Remember that having passed this exam and having your GED certificate is not the end, it is the beginning of new opportunities.” The promise kept to her son Michael opened the door for her to become the parent involvement liaison for F. M. Gilbert Elementary School.

“Even in the midst of this pandemic, Ms. Victoria excels at her job. She arrives early and stays late. She does everything that is asked of her, from decorating the hallways to working hours in the cafeteria. In addition to her hard work and dedication, she has a beautiful and kind heart! Elia Victoria is the epitome of a game changer in Irving ISD! ” says Kesha Valtierra, Assistant Principal at F. M. Gilbert Elementary.

In her capacity as Parent Liaison, Elia is always seen with an cordial smile or kind words, performing a vast variety of tasks, from facilitating classes, such as “Path to College” and “Map Towards the Self Care ”, and courses for parents, supporting teachers with the tasks necessary for instruction and organizing and coordinating events with volunteers that take place throughout the school year, and collaborating with administrators to provide support to teachers so that all students achieve the best academic potential.

I feel that what I like the most about my job is to provide support, to be able to help others, because thanks to that I have learned a lot and I continue to grow as a person and enrich my knowledge on a daily basis. I feel blessed to be a Parent Liaison at Gilbert Elementary, because I am educating myself, learning about resources to support parents and the community, ”says Ms. Victoria.

You have now met Elia Victoria, a parent liaison who makes a difference on a daily basis with her work at F. M. Gilbert Elementary. She is also a dedicated mother who is delighted to hear her son Michael, now in 4th grade, tell her that he is very proud of her achievements and that when he grows up he wants to be a scientist so that he can help many people, like her, but in other fields.

This year in Irving ISD we are recognizing and highlighting the tireless work of “Game Changers”, like Elia Victoria, whose love and dedication to her work and the people she serves, make Irving ISD the best district in the nation.