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Teacher Spotlight: Mathew Gonzalez

February 8, 2023


Teacher Spotlight: Mathew Gonzalez

Mathew Gonzalez is a math teacher at Valor Academy High School. We reached out to him to learn more about why he chose to teach at Bright Star Schools, his unique approach to classroom management, and why he initially avoided the teaching profession before realizing it was an opportunity he couldn't pass up.

Bright Star Schools: How long have you been teaching and why did you decide to teach?

Mr. Gonzalez: The 22-23 school year marks my third year of teaching and my first at Valor Academy High School and in a public school.

I come from a family of educators. Both my mom (recently retired) and dad (soon to be retired), have been public educators for my entire life. Along with tíos and tías who have also joined the field of education, my family has been a part of public education for over 120 years!

Naturally, I tried avoiding this career field with the hope of doing something different than so many of my family members. But in the end, I embraced it! The joy of being able to work and collaborate with future generations every day is an opportunity I will never pass up. I enjoy being a part of the learning process.

Teaching is an important job. I feel valued for my time and effort on a daily basis.


BSS: What is your teaching philosophy when it comes to classroom management?

Mr. Gonzalez: Successful classroom management is an essential aspect to any positive learning environment.

It starts with having clear expectations, consistency, and follow through. Students are more successful when they have teachers who consistently have a routine that they keep to every single day.

I also truly believe that classrooms should be a safe space for students both emotionally, physically, and as learners. I establish on day one that there is a zero tolerance for bullying of any kind. Every student knows that in my classroom, they are respected and deserve kindness. My classroom is also a place where students can safely take risks with math.

Trust and strong relationships matter. Teacher-to-student relationships are important, and peer-to-peer relationships are just as valuable. Getting students to not only trust me as a teacher, but their peers in the classroom is so important to any successful classroom.

My classroom is always open to students. Music, especially classical/lo-fi/kaytranada type beat, is almost always playing while we work. My math classroom is a place where our mathematical discussion takes place front and center, and I create and maintain a culture of rigor for those discussions to occur and flourish.

Lastly, I embrace the same practices for myself that I teach my students. My management hasn't been perfect and I'm making tweeks along the way. I want to ensure we always have a vibrant classroom culture that encourages students to take academic "risks" and overcome misconceptions and/or difficult material. My classroom has to be a fun and relatable class that is also kinda hard.


BSS: What makes Valor Academy High School and Bright Star Schools special?

Mr. Gonzalez: Our students-first approach was one of the most important reasons that I decided to come work at Valor Academy High School and Bright Star Schools. Here, our commitment to justice-first thinking and equity of voice with the students is really important, especially within the current political climate of our country overall.

At Bright Star Schools, students have more opportunities to build relationships with adults on campus that care about them. We believe in and practice restorative justice as part of our committment to seeing students through their education successfully, and onto higher education, career, and life.

BSS: What type of impact do you hope to make in your student’s education?

Mr. Gonzalez: I hope to create an environment where students actually like to attend math class!

I really want students to realize that they are capable of understanding and using math in their lives. Many students believe that they are “not a math person,” but I want students to understand that they are capable of learning any skill, a hobby, or profession with the right amount of effort, dedication, and faith in themselves.


BSS: What are your career goals?

Mr. Gonzalez: I love and cherish the fruitful relationships created between students, staff, and the community at large, and I want to continue to grow and strengthen those relationships. I want students to fall in love with learning, creating, and thriving within our school community.

For me personally, I want to make math fun, be the best math teacher I can be, and see our current freshman class graduate in 2026!

Interested in teaching at Bright Star Schools? Reach out to us at teach@brightstarschools.org.