Retired educator becomes a published author and activist for social change


EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — A local retired school counselor is taking her words of wisdom to the next level by publishing her third children’s book right here in the Borderland.

Juanita Gandara, a retired educator, became a community activist and published her first book in 2018, Zoila the Zebra’s WOW (Words of Wisdom). Living her second dream, Gandara wrote her first book hoping to create social change and bring awareness for both kids and parents when it comes to bullying.

“If you were to write a book what would it be about, and if you wrote a book, what would you want to tell the whole world?” asked Gandara.

Zoila’s WOW anti-bullying program and book were designed to help teachers, students and parents create a safe place for everyone in the classroom.

The mission is to put an end to bullying and prevent social and emotional learning by sharing the 5 Words of Wisdom (WOW), which include:

“I am trying to help. To remind everyone that it’s got to start at home. Now can you imagine all of these 5 little WOW’s all over El Paso schools,” said Gandara.

Gandara’s book collection strives to relate to its audience. Throughout the book, Zoila the Zebra shares her journey from Mexico to the United States in search of the American Dream.

“I knew that I wanted it to be focused a lot on my parents legacy if you will, my family legacy,” said Gandara.

Along the way, Zoila the Zebra learns to overcome loneliness, experiences a new culture and gains confidence in herself by being a strong leader.

Gandara’s latest book, titled Zoila’s Three Tricks to Help Avoid Getting Sick focuses on helping children better understand the time we live in with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gandara has a strong passion to inspire children to live a bullying-free life. To find all of Gandara’s book collection, visit her website at

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