IDEA Walzem sets high expectations for every student and goes the extra mile to make sure every student realizes their own potential. Personalized learning, critical thinking skills, mastery of core subjects is our recipe for success.
Crystal Arreola was born and raised in McAllen, TX. She graduated from IDEA Donna College Prep in 2007, where she was part of the first graduating class of IDEA Public Schools.
After graduating, transitioned to San Antonio to attend Texas Lutheran University, where she later received a BA in Sociology and Psychology. After various roles aligned to her interest in child advocacy, in 2014, her passion for education led her to join the IDEA Walzem Academy team as a 1st grade co-teacher.
She knew this was a way for her to give back to an organization that had given her so much while she was a student. By January, she was promoted to lead kindergarten teacher. For 3 years, she closed the gap with her kindergarten students by getting them on track for academic goals by the end of each year. In 2017, Arreola was named Assistant Principal of Instruction at IDEA Walzem Academy, where she led teachers to increase student achievement across K-2 for the next four years.
Arreola transitioned to the role of Direct Instruction Program Manager in 2020. Over the next three years, she further developed her skill as a regional leader and coached Assistant Principals across the IDEA San Antonio region to achieve strong academic results for our students. She is extremely dedicated to IDEA’s mission of College for All. She knows firsthand what IDEA can do for families, and she is proud to be an IDEA Alumna as well as work for an organization that gives hope and support to families. She believes that her journey and experiences have led her to back to IDEA Walzem Academy to now serve in the role as principal.
Norma Mendoza was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley. After graduating from Texas Woman’s University, she began her career at Grand Prairie High School, Texas. There she taught English classes and coached the dance team. Upon returning to her hometown, Mission, she continued to teach in underserved communities like La Joya Independent School District, and later at Pharr San Juan Alamo ISD (PSJA).
After several years with PSJA, she helped launch the College, Career and Technology Academy. This opportunity was one of her most rewarding experiences because she was witnessing the immediate impact of her work. Senior students who had repeatedly failed state exams were earning passing scores allowing them to finally earn high school diplomas. After beginning a family of her own, she sought better educational opportunities for her children, Raymond, and Tristan, which led her to join IDEA Public Schools.
Norma was a founding teacher at IDEA Edinburg College Prep in 2011, and after two years, she supported the campus as a Grade Team Leader and Content Leader. In 2014-2015, she achieved “Teacher of the Year” status for the second time in her career. Earning her master’s in educational leadership from The University of St. Thomas supported her in her role as an Assistant Principal of Instruction (API). Throughout her four years as an API, she coached and managed teachers to achieve ambitious goals with their scholars. She has been instrumental in helping her campus acquire 7 out of 7 distinctions for three consecutive years, in addition to earning an overall “A” rating from the state.
In 2018, IDEA Edinburg CP (College Prep) was recognized as “The Most Improved Campus of the Year.” As a Principal in Residence, she continued to lead at Edinburg CP from 2019-2020, then Tres Lagos College Preparatory in 2020-2021. At Tres Lagos, she initiated and established the Advanced Placement campus designation for its first rising ninth grade class. For the 2021-2022 school year, she accepted the opportunity to be one of the IDEA Virtual Academy Leaders. This program gave selected IDEA scholars the space to continue their academic journey from the safety of their homes.
Now, with the culmination of Virtual Academy and her youngest son, Tristan, graduating from IDEA Edinburg CP and earning an acceptance to Texas A & M University, Ms. Mendoza looks forward to applying her 30 years of educational experiences as the proud principal of IDEA Walzem College Preparatory! She seeks this role to continue to fulfill IDEA’s vision and mission of “College for ALL” by achieving Small WINS for Big FUTURES!
I am so excited to be a part of the Walzem Operations family! I have actively been involved in the field of education since 2014 after moving to San Antonio from Laredo, Texas. My career in education has evolved. I began as a substitute teacher, then became a co-teacher, teacher, and finally, an Assistant Principal of Operations
I obtained my Bachelor of Criminal Justice from Texas A&M International University, but I decided to go into the field of education after realizing that I wanted to make an impact in my community. My journey here at Walzem commenced in 2016, when I was hired as an Interventionist for 6th & 7th grade. I have had 7 amazing years in the classroom. My passion for helping scholars reach their potential and challenging them while learning, is what keeps me going.
While I have had endless learning opportunities in my various roles as a teacher, my continued goal as an Assistant Principal of Operations is to instill confidence in scholars so that they will be able to communicate with others, seek further education or employment, and be involved in the community. It gives me great pleasure to know that I am impacting individuals, not only to help them reach their educational endeavors, but to also become effective citizens.
I love my job and enjoy working and collaborating with all stakeholders that help run our school efficiently to help teachers and students succeed and be safe. I believe every child is unique and deserves a caring, engaging, and safe atmosphere where they are given the opportunity to grow emotionally, intellectually, and socially. As an Assistant Principal, I want to help students and teachers meet their fullest potential in these areas by providing a safe, collaborative environment.
Ms. Benavides manages all recruitment, enrollment, and onboarding for all new families for IDEA Walzem (K-12). She is passionate about leading all campus operations to ensure the instructional team focuses on leading instruction for every Walzem Wolf.