In her 30-plus years working in the public school, Rosario Canales has taken her education degree and gone full force at Alice Independent School District.

Canales has been a teacher and counselor with the AISD, letting her passion overflow onto her students.

She was a classroom teacher for 10 years and has been a counselor for 22 years.

“For me personally, I believe that this is my mission. As a student, in my youth, many good teachers played a part in influencing my decision to also become a teacher,” Canales said. “Everyone who touches our lives becomes a part of who we are and become. Many wonderful teachers made a difference in my life and I wanted to make that same difference in the lives of children in (my) community.”

Individuals who choose a profession as a teacher know that they won't become rich or famous. Instead, many educators go into the profession with one goal in mind - to inspire their students to the best of their ability.

Canales has a heart for children. Aside from loving the children in the district, Canales and her husband Artie Canales Jr. were blessed with three beautiful children; Artie III, Clarissa and Marissa.

Having children is a challenge for anyone, but Rosario's son was born with hydrocephalus, the medical term for water in the brain, and a seizure disorder making parenthood overwhelming, at times. With the career choice she made years ago, Rosario was able to be close to her son and daughters in case of an emergency.

Because of Rosario's son's medical issues, she can empathize with parents of children with special needs. She turned her personal experiences into inspiration to continue giving everything she had to all her students.

That inspiration took Rosario from teacher to counselor. For the last few years, she has had the privilege to be the counselor at Mary R. Garcia Elementary.

“Being a counselor is an extension of being a classroom teacher, so I didn't have to go far to continue my mission as an educator. As a teacher, we influence a small group of students each year. As a counselor, I am still in the role of a teacher, but my influence is extended to all the students I serve in the whole school,” she stated. “As a counselor I have the opportunity to extend my teaching beyond the reading, writing, and arithmetic – beyond the academics. Because of the curriculum in counseling, I am able to work in building the whole child.”

Rosario is more than her title suggests. She becomes a friend and a listener, and to meet the emotional needs of students. Her position allows her to offer time and patience that is not always available in the classroom for “individual” one-on-one situations.

In today's unpredictable world there are many things that can impact the education system daily.

“Sometimes it appears as though we might want to give up, but the way I keep going is by keeping my eye on the vision of my profession - to focus on the needs of our children. They remain (my) vision, no matter what,” Rosario said.

Rosario thinks about her students future knowing that these youngsters will one day be leaders of tomorrow, becoming teachers, nurses, doctors, policemen, firemen and other professionals.

To make students aware of their future she hosts an annual career fair where professionals meet with students. Fourth grade students have a college representative visit with them and they take a field trip to Coastal Bend College.

“Through these and many other activities my goal remains to build productive citizens who know about goal setting, careers, and professionals in our community who are examples and will be mentors for them,” Rosario said. “Ultimately, it (takes) a village to meet all our lofty goals, so for me, teamwork is important. The teachers, students and parents must work together to succeed in a challenging world. We never give up, no matter what.”

Rosario feels if her work touches each one of the students in some small way then she has fulfilled her calling, making her career more than a job, but a blessing.