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Day job: Superintendent for Sacramento City Unified School District
Family life: Married with four children
You recently served as associate superintendent for equity and access for Fresno Unified School District. What attracted you to Sacramento?
My relationship with Sacramento started when I was very young. When I was in high school, I spent a week in Sacramento attending something called the Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Conference and it really changed my life. Later on, I had the opportunity to serve as a legislative intern in the Capitol. I joked to someone recently that I feel like Sacramento and I have been dating for a long time and this new position allows me to formalize the relationship.
How did growing up in the small farming town of Parlier shape your worldview?
I owe a lot to Parlier in that I was able to grow up with strong family values, working-class values, low-income values. It’s a wonderful community in spite of the poverty and the struggles that it faces. I often talk about the parenting challenge that those of us who broke the cycle of poverty now have, which is this: How do you raise middle-income children to have working-class values?
Did you enjoy school as a child?
I can’t say that I was a serious student in elementary or middle school, but in high school I dedicated more energy to my studies. There are a number of teachers that I still think of today, like my English teacher, Mrs. Greenwood, because she really taught me to appreciate English literature and was a wonderful role model in terms of my writing style.
You’ve been touted as a reformer. What does reform look like to you?
What I hope that we’re able to reform is simply that we increase the expectations that we have for our students and their families. I am committed to improving the system that is responsible for the lives of our students. Where we are not satisfied with the outcomes that we are producing, we will look internally to make the changes we need to make.
How will you know that you’ve succeeded?
We will know that we’re successful when we have produced students who are able to graduate with the greatest number of postsecondary choices from the widest array of options.
What are you most looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to establishing myself and my family as active members of the community. My family is very excited about living in Sacramento and we are grateful for the opportunity. I’m also looking forward to partnering with our community: our families, our civic leaders, our partners in higher education, the nonprofit sector. I understand that as superintendent, I will not be able to succeed by myself. I’m excited about getting to know the many individuals who have reached out and expressed their willingness to work with me. I just hope we can make it real, that we can embark on a journey that will change the lives of students and families.