Celebrating kids’ successes

HARLINGEN — Whether the child has learned to write his name or make a new chess move, Jeanne Jimenez gets a thrill from seeing it happen.

“What I love is not only do I get to keep my kids over the years, I get to see them succeed and grow,” said Jimenez, life skills instructor at Treasure Hills Elementary School.

She’s also the assistant coordinator for the chess camp which just concluded at Lamar Elementary, and she’s coached chess teams at both Ben Milam and Treasure Hills.

She loves seeing children excel at the game.

“A lot of kids, when they come in to chess, they are starting something brand new,” said Jimenez, 30. “On top of that it’s seeing them form bonds and these friends. The students get to interact with the different grade levels and it’s a pretty big deal.”

Beyond that, they proceed to playing at tournaments and developing the discipline necessary for success — just like her life skills kids.

“We celebrate the little things, whether it’s finally tying their shoes or writing their names, just the little things that they do,” she said. “They come in happy every day and fight the challenges that they face.”

Jimenez started with the school district 10 years ago as a paraprofessional.

“I was running the computer lab. I was a kindergarten assistant, I did resource first grade, the library,” she said. “I did a little bit of everything at Ben Milam.”

After three years there, she transferred to her current job as a life skills coach at Treasure Hills.

“I’ve had some really good professors through the years and that really opened my eyes to children with disabilities,” she said. “Not only that, I have some family members that have autism and Down syndrome.”

Her life skills kids have a broad range of educational needs.

“My kids learn all the basic subjects and with that comes a variety of teaching techniques, whether it’s teaching on the floor, teaching at a desk, standing up,” she said. “It’s not a lot of paper and pencil. It’s more activities such as matching, songs, pictures, little things like that.”

Jimenez was born into a military family and raised in Virginia Beach. Her parents are from the Valley and moved here in time for her to attend Harlingen High School where she graduated in 2005.

She’s currently working on her doctorate in leadership studies at Our Lady of the Lake University.