A Helping Hand: Rio Hondo schools director creates resource center

Dr. Mayte Lozano Chapa is the executive director of Support Services for the Rio Hondo Independent School District and works with the family community engagement program. Courtesy photo

RIO HONDO — Born and raised in Rio Hondo, Dr. Mayte Lozano Chapa knew she wanted to give back to the community where she grew up.

Lozano is the executive director of Support Services for the Rio Hondo Independent School District and works with the family community engagement program as well.

Lozano was hired two years ago and was taken to an empty middle school building for her to take items she might need.

However, she ended up wanting the building in its entirety.

“I had the idea of using the building to create a resource center for students and their parents,” she said.

“We found a few computers that they were not using, and we were able to create a resource center for the parents and students. They are able to use the computers to apply for jobs or scholarships,” Lozano said.

Besides the computer lab, she was able to create a donation closet and food pantry alongside three staff members.

“We did a food drive during Thanksgiving and created food packets with bread, a gift card to purchase sides and a turkey,” she said.

At the same time, the center offers counseling services and just recently partnered with the UTRGV School of Medicine to offer mental health services.

Lozano has worked hard to offer as many services as possible to underprivileged Rio Hondo students. At the beginning of the year, she conducts a backpack drive where she collects utensils and backpacks to give out.

“We have limited budgets for a few programs, but I wanted to create something everyone could use,” Lozano said.

Lozano said being a teacher is more than just teaching, it is about giving back as much as possible.

“I studied to be a counselor and did my Ph.D. and decided to come back to my community. I was one of those kids that needed clothing, school supplies. I wanted to come back and work with parents like my parents, very humble parents,” she said.

Because her parents were of humble beginnings, Lozano thought about another workshop for the parents of Rio Hondo ISD. She created “Parents Empowering Parents”, where those who did not have a degree could talk about their skills.

“We have taken cake decorating classes, and my philosophy for that is that they can learn and make a little bit of money. Try to teach parents different skills,” she said.

“This is what we have to offer and anyone who wants to come by we try to see how we can assist them,” Lozano said.

ecavazos@valleystar.com