Local educator is South Texas assistant principal of the year

HARLINGEN — In Michelle Ayala’s world, every day is a new day, a fresh day to bring smiles and hope to youngsters.

“I enjoy being able to work with all grade levels,” said Ayala, 36, assistant principal at Lamar Elementary.

Ayala puts so much effort into creating a positive working environment that the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association has just named her assistant principal of the year for Texas Education Agency’s Region One.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” she said. “We were just screaming and we were so excited.”

As it turned out her own principal, Alma Atkinson, nominated her.

“More than anything it’s her work ethic and her willingness to promote a positive campus culture and also a focus on instruction and improving student achievement,” Atkinson said. “She digs deep and she’s resilient when she’s facing any obstacles that come our way.”

Ayala, the mother of three sons, appears ready for about any challenge. She’s been a kindergarten teacher in La Feria as well as Dr. Rodriguez Elementary. She’s taught fourth grade at Dr. Rodriguez. She’s also served as assistant principal at Rodriguez. At Zavala Elementary she was an instructional coach. She took the helm as Lamar’s assistant principal in 2017.

“I try to come to school every day with that philosophy of ‘Today’s going to be a good day. We’re going to impact kids and we’re going to do the best we can,’” she said. “Yes, there are going to be some little hiccups here and there and some challenges along the way. But every challenge is a learning experience.”

She’d like to start on her doctorate soon.

“I’ve been so busy,” she said. “We’re trying to improve the academic year here at Lamar Elementary but my aspiration has been to get a doctorate in early childhood education. One day I want to be a principal of just an early childhood campus.”

Early childhood has a special place in her heart.

“I believe I’m a kindergarten teacher at heart, so I know there’s power in having fun and building relationships and having a positive experience on campus,” she said.

The win wasn’t just for her, she said, but for the entire campus.

“We work hard every single day, and we work with kids and teachers and staff,” she said. “You forget about how hard you’re working because you’re in the moment. Getting that recognition is a little breather and time to celebrate not just for me but for the entire campus.”

She’ll find out in June if she’s made assistant principal of year for the entire state.

The Michelle Ayala File

OCCUPATION: Assistant Principal at Lamar Elementary

WHAT: She’s just been named assistant principal of the year for Texas Education Agency’s Region One, which covers the area from Laredo to Brownsville. The recognition is from the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association.

EDUCATION: 2006 – Bachelor’s in early childhood education with a minor in bilingual education from the University of Texas-Pan American in 2006.

Earned her master’s in educational leadership from Lamar University in 2014.

WORK HISTORY: 2006 – 2009 – Taught kindergarten at Sam Houston Elementary in La Feria.

2009 – 2013 – Taught kindergarten at Dr. Rodriguez Elementary in Harlingen

2013 – 2014 – Taught fourth grade at Dr. Rodriguez Elementary

2014 – 2015 – Served as instructional coach at Zavala Elementary.

2015 – 2017 – Served as assistant principal at Dr. Rodriguez Elementary

2017 – present – Serving as assistant principal at Lamar Elementary.