Sonia Quirino Canales
Diversity & Inclusion Manager, H-E-B
Brackenridge High School, Class of 1993
Who was your favorite teacher?
My favorite teacher of my entire K-12 life was Ms. Eleanor Marie Zepeda at Woodrow Wilson Elementary. I first met Ms. Zepeda when she was a new 2nd grade teacher. Not only did I have her as my 2nd grade teacher, but I was also lucky enough to have her for 3rd grade and 5th grade as she kept moving grade levels. Ms. Zepeda truly inspired me for the rest of life; she was encouraging and really took an interest in each of us. No matter if there were 25 other students in the classroom, she made me feel like I was the only one. I remember my mom having a birthday party for me after school one day—all my of my classmates were there. We had just spent all day with our teacher in class and here comes Ms. Zepeda in her big van, pulling up to my backyard! All of my classmates were super excited to that Ms. Zepeda took the time to come to my birthday party. Ms. Zepeda was also the first teacher to notice my love of writing. After an assignment, she shared with my parents my writing skills and encouraged them to encourage me to continue writing. I never forgot that. Ms. Zepeda had a deep love of science and math. I remember she had applied to be the first teacher to go up into space with NASA. When the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster happened, she was devastated. I remember her crying and thinking to myself “She’s human.” I know she continued at Wilson well after I graduated from 5th grade and left but I do not know where she is currently. I’d love to tell her now that I she left a life-long lasting impression on me and helped me to become the person I am today.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
I have two and they are pretty much in the running for a tie! Before I got married, my proudest accomplishment was graduating from college. I am a first generation college student/graduate. My parents worked so hard and know the value of hard work. While they couldn’t help me navigate through college, they supported me every step of the way. After I got married, my proudest accomplishment was giving birth to my daughter. Being pregnant was not difficult—I rather enjoyed it! But I was terrified to give birth! We made it though and now my daughter is a proud student of SAISD!
What is your favorite thing about your career?
I’m blessed to have enjoyed a fantastic career. From public relations to the work I currently do in diversity and inclusion, I’ve had an opportunity to learn about so many things and reach so many people—to really make an impact in our community. While working in public relations, I was able to educate many people about the importance of completing the census, taking care of their heart health, educating them about the many city services and programs that were available to them, helping voters understand the important issues, celebrating our Latino heritage, learning about other cultures, equity, and the importance of diversity and inclusion. It’s been a blessing. I have no regrets.
Why is education in SAISD important to you?
I’m a proud alumna of SAISD. I attended Wilson Elementary, Tafolla Middle School and Brackenridge High School. My education at SAISD schools really helped shape me into the person I am today. At an early age my parents were very involved in the PTA; I reconnect with so many classmates in middle school that have gone on to do so many great things nationally and locally and in high school, I was involved in Student Council and I was in the Mighty Eagle Band in the Color Guard. There were so many more experiences that I had during my K-12 education that motived me, helped me to excel and made me want to be better. I’ve heard the term so many times that SAISD is an “inner city” school district—and with that comes the notion of “inner city” challenges like “inner city” poverty. I never felt like I was an “inner city” youth. I was just a student in a great school district. I want SAISD to be known for the greatness that it is! For the great students, teachers and staff that allow us all to be better people. I have full faith in the district now that my child is in elementary school. I hope to continue her education at SAISD throughout her K-12 years.