Namesake Helen de los Santos Mata

  • Helen Mat


    Helen Mata Biography

    I was born on November 5, 1939 in Bay City, Texas. I am the oldest of four daughters born to Justo and Lucia De Los Santos. Both of my parents were born in Texas. My mothers ancestors came from Mexico and my fathers ancestors came from Spain. Neither one of my parents was fortunate enough to have an education above the fourth grade. Dad worked as a custodian for Bay City ISD. My mom worked as a presser in a laundry. They managed to send all four daughters to college. Both of my parents were bilingual and believed strongly in the importance of an education. They made lots of sacrifices in order to provide a college education for all four of their daughters.

    My high school graduation took place at Bay City High School in May of 1958. I began my college courses at the University of St. Thomas (in Houston, Texas) in September of 1958. I had decided to become an elementary school teacher when I was in the fifth grade and so I majored in elementary education at the University of St. Thomas. My daily schedule was pretty full while at the University because not only was I a full time student but I also worked part-time in the University Presidents office as well as being a dorm director. Because I was on a scholarship, my grades had to be fairly high in order for my tuition to be paid every semester. There were many wonderful times and some difficult times during my four years at the University.

    Upon my graduation from the University of St. Thomas in May of 1962, I was hired as a second grade teacher at Montrose Elementary in the Houston Independent School District. I taught second grade at Montrose for two years and then taught fourth grade at Ben Milan Elementary in the same district for two more years. After my second year of teaching, I married Jesse Mata from Wharton, Texas.

    During the summer of 1965, Jesse and I drove out to the country, Alief, Texas and looked at homes in the subdivision known as Catalina Square. We bought a home; I interviewed for a teaching job in Alief ISD and was hired to be one of four second grade teachers at Alief Elementary. This was the only elementary school in the district at this time. I went back to school on a part-time basis and earned my Masters degree in Education as well as my Mid-Management Certification from Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, Texas.

    I have taught in several schools in the Alief District: Alief Elementary, Boone Elementary, Youens Elementary, Kennedy Elementary, Heflin Elementary, Chambers Elementary and Mahanay Elementary. My experience has been in grade levels K-5, ESL and Bilingual Education. I have worked as an elementary teacher, an ESL supervisor, an Assistant Principal, a Principal and as Director of Parental Involvement.