I remember my father driving us down Huntington Drive preaching to us that one day we would be educated and could afford one of these big old houses. I always wanted to knock on their doors as we passed by and ask them what they did for a living and how they got there. Honestly, I could never imagine how someone could ever have that much money to afford such a huge home. My parents instilled basically that education would be our success in life, and they pushed us as hard as they could to achieve that dream.
The story of my success takes a dramatic turn in the library of Roosevelt High School. I was really unsure of what I would do with my life after I graduated. I knew my parents didn’t have lots of money and to tell you the truth I was scared of leaving home. Someone suggested that I go to the library and meet with a representative from the beauty school, so I did. While sitting there a strange lady came up to me and asked if I was there for the meeting. I said, “Yes”, and she ushered me into the career center. I quickly noticed that I was not in the right spot. This was a meeting for the University of California, not the beauty school. I raised my hand and mentioned this to her, she came over to me and ripped my transcript out of my hand. She looked at me and said, “Yes, smart girl. You are in the right meeting.” Debbie Renteria changed my life in one moment. I ended up attending the University of California, Santa Cruz and graduating four years later. It was a life changer.
This past Wednesday, Fresno Unified conducted its second annual Convocation at the Save Mart Center. This event brings together the estimated 10 thousand FUSD employees in one place to rally for the upcoming year. The first thing I always notice upon entering the Save Mart Center is how many people are present. It is quite impressive to see the quantity of people dedicated to the education of our community. The different colors, representing the different high school regions all coming together.
You see old friends, and new ones. You get to see those that have inspired you to be a better educator and those that you have helped along the way. The day is filled with hugs and hellos and well wishes for the new school year. I sat there this Wednesday and thought how many life changers there where in this room; I even think that was a theme of the event. How many of us work everyday to make this community not only a better place for us, but for those that come after us. Now nothing in life is perfect, but what I love most about my job is that we exhaust ourselves trying to find the solution.
It is humbling to know the efforts that individuals go to ensure that our kids not only receive what they need in the classroom, but also outside. All these years later I can reflect back at my school and remember all the teachers and other school personnel that shaped me into who I am today. Mr. Edholm, Mr. Sischo, Ms. Middleton to name a few, and I remember the profound impact they had on my destiny. I was a very shy, quiet, smart, little girl with low self-esteem. I hated to be noticed and I made sure that no one did. Thank God, they did.
So as this new year starts, I know that lots of the attention is on the kids going back to school. I just wanted to take this forum to focus on the adults that make it happen everyday. The amazing people who shape this community in so many ways. So this is to all of you from Fresno, Clovis, Sanger, Selma, Reedley, Central. Orange Cove and anywhere else I might have forgotten. Here is to a great new school year. May you notice that shy little girl and change her life.