Akins alumn elected to Austin school board


Adan Sanchez, Staff Writer

For the first time, the Akins community will have someone who graduated from the school, representing it on the school board.
In November, Andrew Gonzales, a 2010 Akins graduate, won 66 percent of the vote, defeating school board president Geronimo Rodriguez, and winning the District 6 seat on the board.
Gonzales said he still has fond memories of attending classes at Akins. He was recently reminded of his experience taking AP classes when he visited the campus and saw his name on a plaque in the foyer about his test scores.
During his time at Akins, Gonzales said he was an involved student academically and with his extracurricular activities.
“I was a very involved student, especially my senior year,” he said. “I took … eight or nine AP tests my senior year and then I took three my junior year, so it was a total of like 12 across the two years.”
Gonzales said he was also very involved in activities like going to a state competition with the Akins Eagles Band, participating in a Model UN program, and serving as a National Honor Society officer. He said his time at Akins wasn’t perfect, but he enjoyed his time on campus.
“It wasn’t perfect, you know, but I don’t think anybody has a perfect high school experience,” he said. “But overall, I would say that I love the community that I was a part of, and I look back on it positively.”
After graduating from college, Gonzales worked as a middle and high school teacher in Austin ISD. Gonzales said his decision to teach in Austin ISD was influenced by his mother’s 36-year career as a teacher.
“I am very dedicated to keeping that legacy alive,” he said. “I care a lot about the district. I’ve also been involved with the district for my whole life. Every year I’ve been alive I wanted to serve the district in that way.”
Gonzales, who taught social studies and ethnic studies classes, said his time as a teacher was a fulfilling experience.
“It was difficult at times, but it was also one of the most beautiful things that I’ve ever done in my life to help our youth hope for the future, to understand the world around them better, and then also to think critically about how to make it better,” he said.
However, Gonzales said he ultimately decided to leave the classroom because the teaching profession was plagued with issues he thought he could better address by running to serve on the school board.
English teacher Rebecca Redland-Sturzl, who taught Gonzales during his time as an Akins student, said W. Charles Akins (the namesake of the campus) would have been made proud of his campaign and election victory.
“One of the things that Dr. Akins is talking about, and this was when Andrew went to school at the time when Dr. Akins would visit the school, and one of the things that Dr. Akins would tell the students is to grow up to be agents of change-makers,” Redland-Sturzl said.
Being one of the only teachers that remain at Akins who taught Andrew as a student, and shared some of her thoughts on what Andrews’s Victory could mean for Educators of District 6 “
“I think this is why he was so overwhelmingly elected because District 6 is ready to have representation from someone who has a history here, who grew up here with parents, whose family has worked here as well,” Redland-Sturzl said. Redland-Sturzl said how she was “super excited and proud of Andrew to hear that he was going to run.” She added that she reminded him of Dr. Akins’ encouragement for students to be “changemakers.”
“I think that was part of the excitement is the realization, that an educator would have a voice on the school board and could make a change,” she said.
English teacher Alan Brooks, the representative for the Education Austin teacher’s union at Akins, said the organization supported Gonzales because of his experience as a teacher in Austin ISD.
“The union knew that he was going to be somebody who’s going to advocate for teachers and for what’s best for the district and the schools,” he said. “And so they felt comfortable endorsing him.”
Brooks said he was impressed with Gonzales’ campaigning.
“It was a very grassroots campaign. I think he put together his policy positions ahead of time. This was well thought through,” he said. “This wasn’t something he did spur of the moment. And he was very eloquent when he spoke on issues and very knowledgeable. And I think he made a great candidate, which is why he won.”