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Women in education: Two Coastal Bend superintendents recount their rise to the top

Being a woman in power has its own set of obstacles.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — One of the most influential people that help shape the world we live in -- are educators.

3NEWS sat down with two superintendents. One from Kingsville ISD and the other from Gregory Portland ISD -- with both discussing the type of obstacles they encounter in their profession.

Cissy Reynolds-Perez is the superintendent of Kingsville ISD. Her love of school began when she was a young girl.

"I used to get my dolls and I used to put them on little chairs in my bedroom," she said. "And my sister and I used to play school all the time. I get a ruler and pretend like I was pointing at the chalkboard."

Michelle Cavazos is the superintendent of Gregory-Portland ISD. She said that her passion for education runs in the family.

"My grandfather, who is really the big person who inspired me in my life, he taught chemistry and physics at the high school level," Cavazos said.

While both superintendents took different routs to get to where they are, something they both have in common is their past experience as principals.

"Some people may not know I've been a principal at elementary level, middle school and high school, so all three levels," Cavazos said. "And people have asked me 'Well which grade level or ages do you like best? Well they're all fun.'"

School isn't just a job for them -- It's their second home.

"I feel like I'm like a momma bear, but I say a 'momma brahma', because we are the brahmas,'" Reynolds-Perez said. "And all of the students here, they're my kids."  

Despite their joint passion, sometimes there are challenges that come along with being a woman in power.

"The perspective of others when the leader happens to be a female, may be twisted in that they think she's just being mean or she's just being bossy," Reynolds-Perez said.

Due to the complexities of the job, Cavazos said that sometimes the intention behind an action can be misunderstood. 

"I believe in being kind to people even when it maybe isn't extended to me, and there's times in that kindness or even vulnerability and compassion, can be seen or perceived as a weakness, " Cavazos said.  

What some may perceive as a weakness is no match for strength in numbers.

"For me, as a female superintendent, I've had the great fortune of getting to know other strong female leaders," Cavazos said.

Throughout it all, Reynolds-Perez said that the students benefit the most from strong leadership.

"We are here to educate them all. And if we don't. If we leave the children behind, think about what life is going to look like 10 years from now," Reynolds-Perez said.

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