Rosario Gonzalez, Paraprofessional from UFT
* P79, East Harlem
The staff at P79 in East Harlem is mourning the loss of a very special member of their school community, 91-year-old paraprofessional Rosario Gonzalez.
Rosario was everyone’s unofficial grandmother at the District 75 school. A para for 35 years, most of them at P79, she came to work each day with enthusiasm for life and for serving others. She took special care of all the students, personally making sure their needs were met. In 2016, she was recognized by District 75 for all her years of service to her school.
“For those of us who had the good fortune of knowing and working with her, she was the grandma who encompassed a parent, a teacher and a friend,” said Chapter Leader Esther Moreno. “She was loved by the staff and the children alike.”
Colleague Ana Toribio said Rosario was always offering comforting words, morning greetings and sweets to everyone, “just some of the reasons why everyone loved her so much.” She especially remembered one detail of Rosario’s incredible life story. “Rosa spoke many times about living at 55 E. 120th St. when it was an apartment building,” said her colleague, “and how she never thought she would return to work in the same building,” which became P79.
Her granddaughter, Jasmine Gonzalez-Chavez, described Rosario as the cornerstone of the Gonzalez family. “She kept us together and made each one of us feel like we were the most special person in her life, eyes shining with love and always ready with gentle words of praise,” she said.
Inspired by her grandmother’s example, Gonzalez-Chavez became an educator and teaches 4th grade at PS 36 in the Bronx. “She was an inspiration for all, teaching us to never give up on our dreams, no matter the struggle. She was our cheerleader, coach and motivator. She was truly an amazing woman,” her granddaughter said.
Rosario raised five children and “was able to touch the hearts of each of her 17 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren,” her granddaughter said. “She was a blessing to all those who had the privilege to know her. To Grandma Rosa, everyone was family.”