Shelly Rojas has remained in the same spot for the past twenty-four years at Kurth Primary and has the service pins to prove it.
“I’m the longest standing employee at Kurth,” she said. “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t love it.”
Rojas is an interventionist and helps students who struggle with reading. She named the principals she’s worked with at Kurth Primary with her first principal being a role model and an influence in her life long before she took the position.
“Mr. Kelly was my principal in high school,” Rojas said. “My sister told me about an opening at Kurth. It was the best interview I ever had. Mr. Kelly told me ‘You got it’. I had walked in nervous and didn’t know he was the principal here.”
Rojas was born in Cleburne but went to Lufkin schools all of her life. She graduated from Lufkin High School in 1997 where she enjoyed playing volleyball. Rojas was the baby of ten siblings and admits she was spoiled especially by her dad. Her dad brought the family to Lufkin because his brother-in-law was working in the area. He was able to find work at Texas Foundries and then Pilgrims and then became a gardener.
“He was a gardener for Simon Henderson for many years,” Rojas said. “I like to garden. I guess I got that from my dad.”
Rojas and her husband, Erik Estrada, have a twelve-year-old son named Elias at Lufkin Middle School.
“He loves sharks and basketball although basketball is a challenge for him,” she said. “He was born with neurofibromatosis. We were at Texas Children’s, and it was hard to see but there were children in wheelchairs in worse situations.”
The disease affects Elias’ ability to play competitive sports because he has problems with his leg. The disease is known for causing complications in the brain, spinal cord and the nerves making Rojas realize it could be worse. The disease is from a gene mutation. Rojas says she has lots of support from other parents whose children have this particular disease and has joined online groups.
On the job, Rojas usually has morning duty then assists teachers. She works with small groups of three to four students who need reading intervention. She works with Aimee Meyers, the instructional coach on campus, and uses the curriculum she recommends as she prepares lessons for the students.
“You’ll see the growth of the students from the beginning of the year,” said Rojas. “That is nice to see.”
She loves receiving hugs from the little ones and the comments like ‘You look so beautiful today.'”
“Sometimes the kids say ‘I can’t read,’ Rojas said. “I’ll tell them ‘Yes, you can!'”
It’s that kind of encouragement that makes Rojas special to her students and staff at Kurth Primary for all these years.
When Rojas isn’t at work teaching reading, she loves to craft doing things like designing centerpieces. She also loves to dance to Tejano music.