For Lucinda Gonzalez, serving as the parent liaison at MacArthur High School is her life’s work. As a self-described helper, the responsibilities of the role are a perfect fit for her giving nature. As a dedicated and involved parent, she practices what she preaches. In addition to her role as parent liaison, Gonzalez serves on various district and campus committees, including the bond design committee for Farine Elementary School, where her two younger children attend. She also volunteers with the MacArthur Academic Decathlon team, on which her oldest daughter competes.
As parent liaison, Gonzalez serves as a bridge between the school and the school community. For parents, this includes gathering volunteers to decorate for celebrations such as Homecoming or Hispanic Heritage Month; teaching them how to access the portal to their child’s grades and attendance; or even learning a new skill together, like creating balloon arches, which creates a ripple effect of empowerment and shared knowledge.
“We needed decor for an event,” she recalls. “I had never done a balloon arch, but as always, I got on YouTube and looked at some videos, got some parents together and made one. It wasn’t the best, but people loved it. Now, some of those parents have shared pictures of the balloon arches that they do for their kids’ birthday parties. It makes me so happy because we learned a skill together that they can now turn around and use to bring joy to their own kids and save them some money. Just teaching them different skills to show that we as adults never stop learning.”
In addition to family outreach, Gonzalez is also dedicated to creating a haven for students – operating a clothing closet, a food pantry and a safe space for students to reset – all in the MacArthur Parent Center. Gonzalez aims not just to provide resources but to create a sense of community and belonging within the school, for students and parents alike.
“When we were making banners for the Hispanic Heritage program, I stepped out for a moment to help a student in our clothing closet,” says Gonzalez. “When I came back in, I saw tears and Kleenexes. One of the parents was having a really hard day and was able to open up and share about what was going on with her family. Other moms there were able to give her support and helped her through that process. It brought me so much joy that I’ve been able to create this space, to create a community where they feel that comfortable with each other. Out of all the places in the world, she chose our parent center.”
The MacArthur Parent Center is also a stop for staff members at the school. Colleagues who swing by are frequently greeted by a platter of bagels and always a warm smile. Gonzalez will occasionally post to X, formerly known as Twitter, a photo of a baked treat, inviting her colleagues to swing by her post for a quick pick-me-up. In their visits, Gonzalez inquires about ways she and her army of parent volunteers may assist them – from cutting out laminated athletic passes, to making copies and assembling work packets.
Her benevolence caught the attention of MacArthur Athletic Coordinator/Head Football Coach Beck Nitcholas, who nominated Gonzalez for the Honda Community Helper Appreciation Award, which was awarded to Gonzalez at the MacArthur/Irving football game last month.
“She is always helping anyone in need,” says Nitcholas. “She will go out of her way to help anyone!”
MacArthur Principal Natasha Stewart echoes the sentiment, calling Gonzalez an ambassador not just for her campus, but for Irving ISD as a whole.
“Mrs. Gonzalez is an incredible human being who cares deeply about our community,” says Stewart. “She selflessly goes above and beyond her job description to encourage, assist and empower our parents to become true partners in the educational journey of our students. The role is vital to our parent involvement initiatives at the district and campus level. Mrs. Gonzalez embraces the role and leads it with her whole heart. She is considerate, caring and compassionate for her Mac work family as much as she is for our community. We are extremely blessed to have such a phenomenal person.”
All of these efforts are particularly important considering the challenge of engaging parents of students at the secondary level.
“What I see is, high school parents sometimes feel that their students are old enough to just go to programs or events by themselves. But that isn’t the case,” she says. “There’s a lot of bonding and connecting that can happen. High school students love to see their parents in a school, even if they say they don’t want to. I’ve got a junior myself, and the way I see it, these are the last few years she’s under my roof before she goes to college. To me, this is an important time to help shape her as a young adult and also to build those bonds with her. Soon enough she’ll be off at college and it’s going to be harder to create that engagement. Parent engagement and involvement is a really important subject, not just at the elementary and middle school level, but at the high school level as well.”
Up next for the Mac Parent Center? Gonzalez hopes to establish an official Parent-Teacher Organization chapter, recruit more dads to volunteer and retain the Parent Center’s status as a Diamond Level winner, as awarded by the district’s Parent Education and Community Engagement team.
“But more than that, I really just want to grow – volunteers, events and involvement with our parents to be able to connect with their students,” she says. “I know that I’m where I’m meant to be. I’m just excited for the ‘now.’ I enjoy meeting our families, I enjoy helping them in whatever capacity that I am able to. And I am excited for the greater things we will accomplish in the MacArthur Parent Center.”