More than 100 friends, family members, staff, students, and board members past and present gathered in January to pay tribute to long-time board member and educator Maria “Cris” Garza and rename AAMA’s multi-purpose building in her honor. The newly-named Maria “Cris” Garza Student Center sits at the heart of AAMA’s Gulf Freeway campus and houses classrooms, library, and the combination gymnasium, cafeteria, and auditorium.
 
Garza marked her 22ndyear of service on the AAMA Board of Directors on Jan. 1, 2012. During hertenure, she has served on numerous committees, assisted in the classrooms at Sanchez Charter School, participated in fundraising efforts, and spearheaded the formation of an AAMA alumni organization.
 
“Cris has the heart and soul of a true educator,” said Beatrice Garza, president and CEO of AAMA. “All of her efforts have been directed toward doing whatever she can to ensure that students have the support they need to be successful in school and graduate.”
 
The eighth of 14 children, Cris Garza was the first in her family to graduate from college, earning a bachelor’s degree from Pan American College and later, a master’s degree in education from Texas A&M University. She devoted 35 years to the welfare and education of children as a math teacher, counselor, supervisor, personnel specialist, and parent liaison in the Edcouch-Elsa, Victorville, and San Antonio Independent School Districts, and at Houston ISD where she retired after 28 years of service.
 
 
In acknowledging Garza’s service, Board President Raul Dominguez said that she displayed unmatched passion for the students and families, for education, and for AAMA.
 
“You set the standard for all of us as board members,” Dominguez said.
 
Jo Ann Delgado, Harris County Justice of the Peace, Precinct 2, Place 1, also spoke at the event, noting that Garza has shared her love for AAMA with all of her friends and associates.
 
In addition to her work at AAMA, Garza has worked with many other organizations, including the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s Go Tejano Committee, the Houston Hispanic Forum, the League of United Latin American Citizens, Special Olympics, St. Jude’s Hospital, Houston Counseling Association, St. Jude’s Hospital, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and the University of Texas-Pan American Houston Alumni Chapter board of directors.
 
“I always wanted my children to be involved in the community and I’m so proud that they have done that,” the honoree said. It’s no wonder – they had a master teacher.