Long before students arrive at school, Mr. Guzman’s red truck pulls up. This is the only time he listens to music at work, in the early hours before the school wakes up. In he walks, on go the lights, and on comes Pandora.
Mr. Guzman has been at Ann Richards since before it was Ann Richards. “It is more clean, more taken care of. Because when there were boys, they would have lots of fights, and were very dirty. Breaking windows. The Ann Richards school has never broken any windows.”
He says that the best thing about this school is that “They always say thank you to us; the girls, the teachers, the administrators.” The worst part? “Nothing, because here everyone is very good to us, including the secretaries.”
Mr. Guzman was here the day the school opened in August of 2007. He remembers the stream of excited girls walking through the doors. He remembers his first impression of Mrs. Goka.
“First, that she surely was a really good person.” He even remembers the name of the first girl he met, Maria Cruz, who he watched graduate last May. “She always greeted me when she saw me in the hallways.”
Six years later, he witnessed this same girl outside the school in the early hours, as the senior class committed the first senior prank. As he walked into the toilet paper clad school, his only thoughts were of affection for the girls.
“When I saw them [the seniors], they had already finished [the prank],” In response to if he tried to stop them, “No, I just thought they were being mischievous.” He loved watching them grow up into graduates, “You know how so many girls leave the school, and some of them have children right now.”
But Mr. Guzman is known for being our witness, our protector.
“One time there was a girl that wasn’t eating, and Mr. Guzman told us because he was worried for the girl,” said Ms. Goka, recalling yet another incident where Mr. Guzman was doing far beyond his job description.
He sees everything and watches out for us all. He has a close connection with an extremely large amount of people in the school.
“He greets me every morning with, ‘Hello Texanna Turner,’ and a hug. Every morning. And I think that’s kinda neat,” said Principal Turner.
“He taught me all the Spanish I know,” said Coach Brown of Mr. Guzman. “And I can always hear him when I’m walking down the hallway just whispering, ‘Coach Brown…Coach Brown.’”
We know him to be dependable and loyal. Mr. Guzman is famous for having come to every soccer game in our history as a school.
It is something of which he is very proud. He keeps a picture hanging in his office of himself and Olivia Zuniga huddled up in blankets at the coldest game that ever occurred.
“He comes to all the soccer games… he does not miss them. He gets up on Saturday when he doesn’t have to work to show up at a 9 AM soccer game.” Why does he do it? “Well to support them, of course,” said Mr. Guzman.
“When I think of Mr. Guzman, I think of the most responsible person in this building. If I had to pick one person to do the amazing race with, it would be Mr. Guzman,” said Principal Waugh. He has made a lasting impression on us and us on him. On September 11th 2007, less than a month after the school opened, Mr. Guzman’s mother died in Mexico. Mrs. Goka sent him home to his family immediately and that morning it was she who unfolded the tables for the early morning meeting in his place. Even that one September morning without him, it was not the same. “We desperately miss him when he isn’t here,” said Ms. Goka. “He is the eyes and ears of our school.”
Every morning, the first key to unlock the Ann Richards School is Mr. Guzman’s. His red truck is always right in the front parking spot, reliable and steady. “He’s always here, he’s always dependable, he’s always where we need him,” said Mrs. Waugh. Mr. Guzman’s constant care is something we have come to love and depend on. And he believes in us. When asked about the school’s mission, Mr. Guzman said, “I tell the girls to study hard, so they won’t be sweeping floors like us.”