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News Item: Homepage

1st Annual Girls Conference Slated for April 8th


 

By Ray Huard

 

When Linda Guerrero was in high school, a guidance counselor told her she wouldn’t go to college.

 

“I didn’t fit the profile,” Guerrero said. “I didn’t have parents who were involved. I didn’t have parents who spoke English. I hadn’t been exposed to college.”

 

But an English teacher took an interest in Guerrero, told her that she could go to college, and that she could have a career.

 

Guerrero earned her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from California State University San Marcos, became a teacher, then an assistant principal, and is now director of English Language Development for the Vista Unified School District.

 

She wants to provide the same inspiration to young girls that the English teacher gave her, in part through an April 8 Girls Conference for middle schoolers at Rancho Minerva Middle School.

 

In November, Guerrero and Rancho Minerva Assistant Principal Nicole Adams formed a Girls Empowerment Club at the school, which meets once a week after school. “At this age, girls are really trying to find their way and come into their own,” Adams said. “We want to empower girls to be themselves, to be strong.”

 

Vista Unified Superintendent Devin Vodicka said that he was “inspired” by Guerrero’s efforts to help girls succeed. He said the conference “is an excellent example of our commitment to achieve our vision to be the model of educational excellence and innovation.”

 

A goal of both the conference and the club is to provide role models girls can emulate, to counter some of the negative messages girls pick up from social media and conventional media, and to show girls they have many career options. “I think there’s a fixed mindset on what girls are good at,” Guerrero said.

 

The conference is meant to dispel that, with women from a wide range of professions talking about their careers, how they got into them, what they might have had to overcome.

 

“We’re really trying to bring in a diverse group of expertise to be able to share our stories with young girls,” Guerrero said. “Everyone has a story to share, how they got into their profession. Sometimes it’s a straight line, sometimes it’s a zig-zag.”

 

Sessions also are planned to talk about financial literacy, nutrition, social media, healthy relationships and body image, among other topics. “Our job is to plant the seeds,” said Guerrero, whose own story is one of perseverance.

 

She was in the first generation in her family to go to college.

Her father, a landscaper, never got beyond third grade in school. Her mother, a homemaker, went through fifth grade.

“My parents just taught me to work hard,” Guerrero said. “I don’t try to sell the story that life is perfect. I try to tell the story that life has ripples and valleys, but it’s what you bring into your life that matters.”

 

Adams said that she had strong role models in her parents. Her mother was a teacher in an inner city school in Bakersfield. “It wasn’t until I became a teacher, and, now, an administrator that I realized how lucky I was to have someone I could look up to,” Adams said. “I carried on the family tradition.”

 

Her hope is that the conference and club will provide strong role models for girls who don’t have them. “A lot of the women that are involved in the conference had someone they could look up to and those relationships have lasted for years and years,” Adams said.

Posted by: Dave Palmer, District Associate, Vista Unified School District Published:3/28/17
Audience: Homepage and Homepage