Paloma Medina – P.E., Art & Library Teacher, Computer Lab Aide
Paloma Medina – a native Dell Citian who joined Dell City ISD in October 2020 – fills multiple roles at the school, working with students from pre-K to high school. And with Cougar students of all ages, she's found work that's both challenging, and nourishing.
In the mornings, Medina supervises the school's computer lab – where students who need remediation work on credit recovery, and other students pursue foreign-language study, through the Rosetta Stone program. She helps students stay on task, and provides guidance and support in their work. Medina's afternoons are a bit more boisterous – when she teaches P.E., as well art and library time.
P.E. is a highlight, Medina said. She began leading P.E. for pre-K and kinder students in the fall. In December, first- through fourth-grade students joined her class.
Coordinating exercise and games for such a range of ages requires some care, she said.
“The older kids know the little ones are there, and that they need to be careful with them,” Medina said. “They know not to play rough. But we have our routine now, and it's working well.”
It starts with stretching and exercise – and continues with games like capture the flag, or kickball. (With the pre-K students, Medina often has to stand alongside them, as they kick, and run the bases.) On Fridays, the youngest students have time on the playground, while the older Cougars play soccer or football.
Children need to be physical, Medina said, and it helps them stay alert and focused in class and throughout the school day.
“The important thing is that they stay active,” she said.
In art and library, Medina has help from another new staffer, Stephanie Espinoza – Espinoza works with pre-K and kindergarten students, and Medina with first- through fourth-graders. The class creates seasonally appropriate art projects – the students made Mother's Day projects earlier this month. In the library, elementary students choose books and take “Accelerated Reader” tests to assess their comprehension.
Medina wouldn't have envisioned herself in the classroom a year ago. She started with the school as a substitute teacher – but when the opportunity for full-time work arose, she seized it. And she quickly realized that it brought her joy – that spending her days with children is a delight.
“When you start working with them, you find you enjoy it – just being with the kids,” she said. “They're growing up – and you're there with them.”
Patience is the key, she said.
“You have to understand kids,” Medina said, “and you just have to have patience. You're not going to have them all sitting down quietly. Why? Because they're kids.”
For Medina, one of the unique challenges, and rewards, of working at the Dell City School involves three students in particular.
Medina is the mother of four – and three of her children are Cougar students: Rachel in fourth grade, Cristhian in first, and Mia in pre-K. Her youngest – Jordan – will join his siblings on the Cougar campus next year.
It took a little time to set the right boundaries at school.
“At first it was hard,” Medina said. “It's not the same at home as it is here – I had to remind them, 'Here I'm not your mom – I'm Ms. Medina.' And Cristhian at first was a little embarrassed. I had to tell them, 'There's no special treatment – you're just a student.' But now they understand, and it's good.”
The Dell City School feels like a family – it's one of the things that sets the district apart. But for Medina, it truly is a family affair. Her sister Stephanie Rangel is the pre-K teacher, and Stephanie's son is a student. And their sister Monica has five students in school.
“When I pick them up, I have 10 kids in my car,” Medina said. “I have an SUV, so they do fit, though not necessarily the right way.”
Medina grew up in Dell City – she attended the Dell City School beginning in kindergarten. But as a young couple, she and her husband moved to Mansfield, Texas, near Dallas-Fort Worth.
They returned to Dell City four years ago. Her husband grew up in a big city – and at first had some hesitations about small-town life. But he's come to embrace it, Medina said. Medina's parents are here. And Monica moved back home this fall, from Delaware. Medina said that it's a special thing for her children to be able to attend school with their cousins.
“I'm so happy they're all here,” Medina said. “And the kids all get to grow up together – that's what's fun about being a family.”
During her time in Mansfield, Medina worked for five years with heavy equipment – she's a certified cherry picker operator. Medina said she likes to “stick with a job, and advance in it.” And that's her approach to her work at the school.
Medina left high school in 10th grade. It was while she was obtaining her GED that she discovered – with the support of a good teacher – that she had an aptitude for math.
“I didn't know it,” she said, “but I found out that I love math.”
Medina said that, ultimately, she would like to teach math at the Dell City School – algebra is her favorite, and, in her work this year in the computer lab, she helps a high-school student with geometry.
But, she said, “you have to start somewhere.” Medina is enrolled at El Paso Community College, to begin pursuing an associate's degree – and certification as a teacher – in August. As a busy mother of four, with a full-time job, she knows adding school to her life will be a challenge. But she says she won't be content unless she's growing in her job.
Staff turnover has been a difficult issue at the school in recent years. Medina said she aspires to be like the teachers she knew here as a young student – Ms. Green, Ms. Lewis, Ms. Tavarez, Mr. Mustain – who taught for decades, and nurtured generations of Cougar students.
Welcome to the Dell City School staff, Ms. Medina, and thank you for everything you're doing for our students!