Pamela Moreno has taught at La Vega Elementary School in the La Vega Independent School District in Waco five years. She is a member of Viento Fuerte Church. From deep in the heart of one Texan, she shares her background and thoughts on being a Christian in public education. To suggest a Baptist General Convention of Texas-affiliated educator to be featured in this column, or to apply to be featured yourself, click here.
Where else have you served, and what were your positions there?
Before coming to La Vega Independent School District, I served in Waco ISD nine years, where I taught first, second, fourth and fifth grades.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Fort Worth while my dad was finishing seminary. When I was just a few months old, we moved to Normangee, when he got his first pastorate. We were there until I was 5, when he became pastor at Kendrick Lane Baptist Church in Waco. We have lived here the last 37 years.
How did you come to faith in Christ?
Being raised in the church, I was introduced to Christ at a very early age. I remember being in my room as a child and crying, because I felt like I needed something in my life. I remember talking to my parents and telling them I was ready to make the decision to invite Jesus into my life. Sitting there in my room, my dad led me in the prayer of salvation. That next Sunday, I made my decision public in the church.
Where were you educated, and what degrees did you receive?
I attended McLennan Community College for two years and then transferred to Baylor University. I received my Bachelor of Science in Education degree from Baylor in 2002. I received my master’s degree in curriculum and instruction with an elementary reading focus from Grand Canyon University in 2016.
Why do you feel called into education?
I love working with children. It always has been a passion of mine. I love being able to build a trusting relationship with my students, letting them know I can be someone for them to trust. I love being able to provide a safe environment for them to learn.
How does being a Christian influence your work in education?
I feel being a Christian and having faith in God is what gives me the strength and determination to work in the education field, especially in the times we are going through now. God has called us to be the salt and light in this world. The education field is a perfect place to do that.
Every day I walk into my classroom, I ask myself how I can be an example and show Christ to my students. My faith is what helps me to keep a positive attitude and have hope when it seems like everything is going wrong.
What is your favorite aspect of education? Why?
My favorite aspect of education is being able to teach my students something new every day. I love being able to see their growth and learning. There is nothing more rewarding than those “light bulb” moments when you can see a student who has been struggling with something start to get it and succeed.
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What one aspect of education gives you the greatest joy?
My greatest joy would have to be knowing I have helped make a difference in at least one child’s life, knowing something I have said or done has helped one of my students in some way.
What is your favorite class to teach? Why?
I love teaching math, because there are so many different ways to teach it. I enjoy using manipulatives to teach a concept, because it allows students the opportunity to use a hands-on experience to grasp a concept.
I also enjoy using songs and chants to introduce and reinforce concepts they are learning. Along with those songs and chants, I am able to use motions and body movements to help teach vocabulary.
How do you expect education to change in the next 10 to 20 years?
I think there will be a lot more technology involved in education. After finishing the last school year virtually and doing virtual and face-to-face instruction, I could see some of the aspects we have been doing sticking around. I could see more students being given a choice of how they choose to learn, whether that be in an actual classroom setting or online.
Why are you Baptist?
I was raised in a Baptist church from the time I was born until I was 18. At age 18, I started attending a nondenominational church that shared a lot of the same beliefs as Baptists. The church I now attend also is Baptist.
As for why I am Baptist, I would have to say it is because of the beliefs and practices Baptists have. I know being a Baptist is what has shaped me into the person I am today. It has helped to grow my faith and the way I show it.
Who were/are your mentors, and how did/do they influence you?
My kindergarten teacher Mrs. Ginger Lovelace influenced me to become a teacher. She showed me how a teacher could be caring while educating. She helped me to see learning could be fun. She is the teacher I strive to be like when I am in a classroom.
Pastor Marshall Lopez was one of the youth ministers I had as a teenager. Marshall showed me what it was like to work in the church and to be a true example of a Christian everywhere we go. He gave me many of my first opportunities to work in the church, whether it was with the children’s choir playing Psalty the singing songbook or going with the youth to Acquire the Fire as a sponsor. With Marshall, I also was able to go on mission trips and reach out of the four walls of a church building.
What did you learn on the job you wish you learned elsewhere?
In college, they teach you all about what to teach and how to teach it, but there was no course on dealing with classroom management and how to deal with problems that arise. Those are the kind of things that happen that you never really are prepared for and learn “on the spot.”
Other than the Bible, name some of your favorite books or authors, and explain why.
One of my favorite authors is Joyce Meyer. I have read at least two of her books, Battlefield of the Mind and Never Give Up. Her books are great resources to motivate and encourage us with our spiritual walk every day.
What is your favorite Bible verse or passage? Why?
Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.” This Scripture is a reminder to put our faith and trust in the Lord. He knows what is best for us. Even when we don’t understand everything, if we follow his direction, he will guide us to what we need.
My other favorite would have to be Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I love this Scripture, because it is a reminder that no matter how tough life gets or what obstacle I have to face, I know God always is with me and gives me the strength I need. He never gives us more than we can handle.
Who is your favorite person in the Bible, other than Jesus? Why?
Esther was a strong woman who stood up to do the right thing no matter the cost. She knew who she was and that she was in the position she had for a purpose. She understood her destiny and did what she had to do to protect her people. She easily could have made excuses or ignored what was happening, but she knew God had given her the position for a reason. She rose up and fulfilled her calling.