JoEtta Gonzales
JoEtta Gonzales

As the Director of the Equity Alliance at ASU, JoEtta designs and delivers individualized, comprehensive, and systemic support for school districts in the form of leadership training, collaboration, coaching and capacity building.  With a blend of humor, sensitivity, and professional insight, she uses her passion and first-hand experience to help individuals develop  and use an equity lens for decision-making related to student achievement.  A talented speaker and workshop leader, she has worked with school systems across the United States in addressing issues of equity.



Dear School District,

Sending my daughter off to school for the first time will be a bittersweet experience.  I should be good at this by now, right? I’ve seen her off to kindergarten, middle school, high school – heck, I’ve even had the opportunity to walk her to her first class when she started her studies at the university.  Each time she started school she came home more intelligent, spirited, and slightly saucier.

And yet, sending her off to work in your district as a teacher leaves me compelled to share a few things with you.  I want you to know who she is and understand the kind of teacher she wants to be.

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JoEtta has a passion for equity that has been present all her life.  As the Director of the Equity Alliance at ASU, she connects with educational leaders who want to engage change and transformation.  With a blend of humor, sensitivity, and professional insight, she has helped hundreds of individuals develop the dispositions necessary to use an equity lens for decision-making related to student achievement.  A talented speaker and workshop leader, she has worked with school systems across the United States in addressing issues of equity.

In my work with schools, I have the opportunity to talk with students about their school experiences. They often say that adults in school don’t listen – that they’ve never been asked their opinions before – and that adults in schools have too many other things to worry about besides the thoughts, ideas, or issues that concern kids.  These students come from elementary and secondary schools in both traditional and alternative settings.  The common message I receive is they don’t feel their ideas are important; and these feelings of anonymity often result in students who disengage from school. Over time, these feelings start to accumulate, and situate the student within the margins of classrooms and schools. Many times these students are labeled “at risk” because they are in danger of failing to achieve at levels similar to their peers or of developing behaviors and attitudes that create barriers to school success; and ultimately failing to graduate.

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JoEtta Gonzales

JoEtta has a passion for equity that has been present all her life.  As the Director of the Equity Alliance at ASU, she connects with educational leaders who want to engage change and transformation.  With a blend of humor, sensitivity, and professional insight, she has helped hundreds of individuals develop the dispositions necessary to use an equity lens for decision-making related to student achievement.  A talented speaker and workshop leader, she has worked with school systems across the United States in addressing issues of equity.

Most of the time when school administrators and professional developers get together to discuss the practice of teaching, the talk turns to technique. They’ll debate for hours on end regarding the best way to teach students to read and make meaning of text. They’ll talk about fluency, decoding skills and a lot of specific strategies and/or programs that teachers should use to facilitate this learning. At times, the conversations even extend to “evidence-based practice” – which by the way, may or may not mean there is evidence that pertains to the specific population of students in which they are referring.

One subject that rarely comes up, though, is heart. That’s a shame too, because while a teacher with a strong repertoire of skills is valuable to have on staff, it’s the teacher with heart that reaches more students and motivates them to achieve more than they ever thought they could.  Indeed, teachers with heart are the best teachers in the school. Teaching for equity comes naturally to these teachers, as they possess the dispositions and mind-sets that actively enlist students to achieve at – or sometimes even beyond – their potential. As a former principal, I’ve seen this first hand. Read more

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