Association of Texas Professional Educators
Association of Texas Professional Educators
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Volunteer Spotlight

The thousands of ATPE volunteers across Texas are the backbone of this association. Their hard work and dedication allow ATPE to serve the state’s largest community of educators. In this ongoing ATPE News series, we spotlight volunteers who set a great example of service to their fellow educators. NEXT UP: Cristela Rocha, reading interventionist and journalism teacher as well as Del Valle ATPE president.

Why Volunteer?

When Cristela first began teaching, her mentor was an ATPE campus representative who encouraged her to join ATPE to protect her income and ability to provide for her family. Very soon, however, she began to feel as if ATPE itself were a family, one she wanted to support.

“It was very clear that we are family,” Cristela says. “If we don’t help each other, who would? I never felt like I was obligated to volunteer; it just came naturally. Oh, somebody is doing this—let’s see what we can do to help. Oh, that campus doesn’t have that? Let’s see what we can do to help that campus rep. It became like a family, and I still feel that way.” 

That’s why Cristela continues volunteering, especially during the challenges of recent years.  

“What keeps motivating me is growing our family and taking care of each other, especially during the pandemic. It is important to not just grow our numbers but also check in on people. There may be a person I have never spoken to, but they are a member. So, I will send them an email and say, ‘Hey, how are you?’ I want to make those connections and remind them how much they are worth.” 

Largest Team in Texas 

Cristela never misses an opportunity to talk about ATPE with her colleagues. She even uses her wardrobe to help spread the word.  

“Normally my district requires professional dress attire, but sometimes they let us wear a sports team shirt. I always wear my ATPE polo shirt. When people ask, ‘How is that a sports shirt?’ I always tell them that ATPE is the biggest team in Texas. I love my Cowboys, but this is even bigger than the Cowboys.” 

Advice for Volunteers? 

Cristela’s approach focuses on perseverance and kindness.  

  • “I try to focus on building those relationships within my district, not just with members but also with people who are not members yet because they always have the potential to become a member. I worked with a person who kept asking me what different bills in the Texas Legislature meant. I always directed her to to read more information about them. Finally, she said, ‘I might as well join ATPE; I am always asking you questions anyway.’“ 
  • “Perseverance pays off. You may not get them right away, but I kill them with kindness, no matter what. I believe that is what ATPE is known for: We are professional, we are courteous, and we are kind, no matter the situation.” 
  • “My philosophy is to try and build our family, make them feel valued, and inspire them to hopefully step up and to volunteer.”   

Interested in becoming an ATPE volunteer? Reach out to ATPE Volunteer Program Coordinator Anna Belle Burleson at for details. 


Author: ATPE Staff