For Maria Villarreal, (known to most as “Miss V.”) Stafford Municipal School District is so much more than just a school district.
“Stafford has been my family,” Villarreal said. “I have been invited to former students’ quinceaneras, weddings and baby showers. I’m now teaching my students’ children.”
Villarreal – the Stafford Elementary Teacher of the Month (December 2019) -- has taught in SMSD longer than anyone, with the exception of Stafford Middle School Mathematics Teacher Yolanda Kelley.
Thirty-five of her 40 years in education have been with SMSD, arriving in the summer of 1984.
Villarreal grew up in Brownsville, in a family of educators, and graduated from UT-Pan American (now known as UT-Rio Grande Valley).
When she moved to Fort Bend County in the mid 1980s, Villarreal had two job offers – one to teach Kindergarten in a larger district or start the Pre-K program in SMSD.
“I chose SMSD, and it was a good feeling,” Villarreal said. “I knew it was my happy place. It doesn’t feel like it’s been 35 years. When you love what you do, it goes by quickly.”
When she arrived, Villarreal was the District’s only Pre-K Teacher. Now, there are eight.
Villarreal loves Stafford so much that she and her husband of 40 years, Ray, moved with their three sons and daughter to the City in 2000.
All four of her children are proud SMSD graduates, and two of them are currently working as educators. Ray is very involved with the Stafford High Band Booster Club.
Together, they’ve attended more than 90 percent of Stafford High graduations over the years, seeing many of her students walk across the stage to accept their diplomas.
One of Miss V’s favorite SMSD Traditions takes place shortly before graduation – Senior Walk – where SHS seniors walk the halls of the K-8 campuses.
“Senior Walk makes me so proud,” she said.