Our first encounter with the Chula Vista Elementary School was in the early 1950’s. David, our first born, was marched over to Rosebank School and enrolled. He was quickly followed by two others, daughters Margaret and Coni thus making Zula and me veterans of the system.
Over the past several years I have kept pretty good tabs on the district and its schools. I have written on specific schools, visited and written about individual classrooms, and, of course, have highlighted many teachers in the district. Probably, most importantly, was my meeting with school superintendents. I am not altogether sure but I think the first of the latter was Dr. Burton Tiffany and residents of the area know that was quite a while ago.
For the past three or four years, however, I find that I have slipped up on my talks with superintendents. For whatever reason, if there is one, I have neglected this task, a task rather pleasant we might add. So we decided to rectify this neglect.
The other morning we motored over to the district’s offices on J Street and spent the better part of a morning in pleasant conversation with the superintendent, Dr. Francisco Escobedo.
Dr. Escobedo, we must commence, is a true educator. By that I mean he was not plucked from some other profession, the military or law for example, which seems to be the vogue in other districts. He is a native of New York, who like many others migrated west after graduating from college, Yale University. He did work as a police officer for a year but then opted for education.
Although Dr. Escobeda has had the superintendent position for a scarce three years he has been around South County schools for some time.
He worked in National City and then in South Bay before coming to Chula Vista. His position prior to this one was as principal of Feaster School, a school at the northern edge of the district.
One must realize that this is a large school district, probably the largest (by population) elementary district in the state.
I mentioned Rosebank earlier. Rosebank was one of a handful of schools that were built shortly after the war. A wise board, no doubt anticipating a burgeoning community, hired the architects and school designers and all those other folks who are instrumental in school growth and were well on their way to building an education empire.
With the advent of Eastlake and the other developments in the east the building mode kicked in again until there was the present number of 46 schools. They are the plants that house and educate some 28,000 pupils in grades K-8 .
These are changing times. Individuals such as Superintendent Escobedo are aware of this, hence curriculum must also change with those times.
Escobedo told me that he is a curriculum educator and he is involved with what is being taught in the district’s schools. He believes in the full education of the youngster, particularly that encompasses critical thinking and the entire gamut is there for the learner.
All he or she needs is the teacher to motivate. Escobedo married a local young lady and they have two children, both grown.
The school district has a motto that is printed everywhere, including the Superintendent’s business card: “Each Child is an Individual of Great Worth.” As I read this I was reminded of another such motto. A lapel pin, a gold sea star, was given to me by a former superintendent, Libby Gil, with a story behind it.
A man was walking down a beach, goes the tale, one morning when he saw the entire sandy area in front of him littered with thousands of sea stars that had been washed ashore by an unusual tide.
He met another man on the beach who was picking up the sea stars and hurling them into the water. The man explained that they would never get back on their own. So they needed help.
“But mister,” he was told. “There are thousands out here. What difference does it make?” With that the Samaritan threw one into the tide. He turned and with a smile he said, “It made a difference to that one.”