Daughter of teenage pregnancy, parents who did not graduate from high school and jumping from school to school with no real connection or sense of achievement, Diana Roybal, the new superintendent of the Goleta school district Union, came from a broken home.
“Who would have thought that a child from a broken family whose parents did not even have high school education, who had so many typical challenges that many children face today, and yet I am here as a superintendent, ”Roybal told Noozhawk. “Now, as a superintendent, I look back on my experiences and truly believe that public education is the greatest hope for our future. As the superintendent of this district, I want the Goleta Union school district to be the best example of this hope. “
Roybal started as superintendent of Goleta Union on July 1 following the retirement of former superintendent Donna Lewis.
Roybal was born and raised in California, then lived in Colorado for 29 years, where she worked as a preschool teacher, elementary school teacher, vice-principal and principal before returning to take on the superintendent’s seat.
A few months ago, she said, she learned that her father had previously been incarcerated in the Santa Barbara County Jail.
“While my dad was serving time in the Santa Barbara County Jail, I’m here in the Santa Barbara County Children’s Service,” she said. “And that is the power of belief and public education and what it can do in a generation to change the trajectory of a person’s life.”
Roybal once recounted when she had a broken leg in second grade, and with no transportation to school, she just didn’t go. Her teacher at the time came to her house with coloring books, pencils and readers, reading with her and challenging her to keep up with her schoolwork, she said.
“I distinctly remember sitting on the couch and working out because I didn’t want to let my teacher down,” Roybal said. “As an adult now in education, I look back and realize that this was a point in time when the power of belief made a difference to me. And that’s the theme for this year: the power of belief.
Supervising approximately 3,500 students in nine elementary schools, Roybal brings with her a vision to instill hope and confidence in children. All teachers and adults who interact with students have “an incredible power to demonstrate their faith in children” that could lead the way and change their lives no matter what their situation at home is, she said.
As a person of color and not from a family that has had a lot of educational opportunities, Roybal said she represents the hope that public education can give children.
“I was a person who grew up in poverty, I grew up in a difficult family situation, and yet, thanks to public education, I was able to get to where I am today,” Roybal said. “I think my story, my passion will bring hope to teachers to help them believe that they can really help prepare students to believe in themselves.”
Understanding that students come from all walks of life and support levels, Roybal said the district’s job is to be the bridge that helps children realize that there are many opportunities available to them. them.
“As a school district, we need to be clear on how to provide these opportunities to make sure that no child falls through the cracks, that all children have opportunities, and that all children have someone. one who believes in them, and that all children reach their full potential, ”she said. “We have to start with this very basic level of belief that all children are capable.”
Roybal said she was truly connected to the missions and values of the district, and “everything about this opportunity ticked all the boxes.”
As students returned to full in-person learning for the first time on Tuesday, Roybal spent the first few days of the school year touring all nine campuses, visiting each classroom to meet with students and teachers, she declared. Administratively, Roybal makes a lot of decisions, and touring schools has allowed her to see the impact of those decisions, she added.
“It was such a joy. I was looking forward to all the teachers and the kids going back to school, ”Roybal said. “See the joy and see them learn and see the resilience of children and staff, and not just their resilience, but their joy to be with their peers, to learn. There is nothing better than standing outside during recess and watching the kids running around and laughing, and you would never think there is a problem in the world.
“And you know, that’s the way kids should be.”