What do you do?
Denise Gutierrez

Where do you work and what is your title?
       I work at West Elementary School. I am a teacher.
What do you do there and/or what are you responsible for?
       I teach second grade and I am responsible for the education of 20 wonderful students. Every day we work on reading, writing, math, science and social studies. I also help with the school parent-teachers organization (PTO).
How long have you been doing this kind of work (total)? How long on the Westside?
       This is my 20th year teaching. I have spent the past 17 years on the Westside. I taught 13 years at Buena Vista Elementary School, 1 year at Whittier Elementary School and this is my third year at West Elementary School.
What do you like best about it (other than quitting time)?
       I love working with my kids. It's a wonderful feeling when a child learns something that you've been teaching them. It's great to see the "lightbulb" go on when they figure out a new concept or idea.
If you could change one thing (other than pay), what would it be?
       I would make sure that my students could be given the same opportunities in education as other students in the city. Our classrooms are smaller than other classrooms in the district. They lack the luxuries for learning that you'd find in a typical elementary classroom. Our kids do have compassionate and caring teachers, though. Our students are extremely valuable at West Elementary.
What part of your work did your training/education never prepare you for?
       None of the college courses ever prepared me for working with the diverse backgrounds of the children. In addition to having different learning styles, they have different personal backgrounds. No one ever taught me how emotionally attached I would become to ALL of my kids. I just want to protect them from everything that they face out in the world.
What makes working on the Westside special?
       The Westside IS a very special place. The pace is calming and relaxing. All of the families that I have had in the past 17 years of teaching have become a special part of my life. They are truly warm and caring. I don't think I could find that in any other area of the city. I would NOT work anywhere else. I just love it here!

“What do you do?” is a regular feature in the Westside Pioneer. If you know someone who has an interesting job on the Westside (but doesn’t live here), he/she might be a candidate for this column! If you know someone who might qualify, give us a call at 471-6776.