In 2012, Raymond completed a 35 year chapter of his career. During that time, he provided a range of educational services to students and families. As an educational leader, he expanded the capacities of faculties he was responsible for guiding and leading with the goal of enhancing students’ learning and developing stronger believes in their individual and collective potential to achieve individual and shared goals. His deep empathy and interest to help underserved communities acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to increase opportunities and choices they had in their lives took him to orphanages in Mexico and to the most rural parts of Yakima Valley inWashington. There he worked with migrant farmworker families that harvested seasonal crops. In California, he earned his bilingual cross-cultural teaching credential (English/Spanish) from CSU Sacramento. This opened opportunities for him to teach diverse students from preschool through high school. While teaching in rural, suburban and urban areas, he became interested in understanding how he could expand his influence on students’ and families’ successes through leadership positions in educational administration He began focusing on his leadership skill development and learning about different approaches of leadership used by respected individuals around the world.
To achieve this goal, Raymond entered a post-graduate study project at CSU Sacramento where he examined strategies to better serve marginalized populations of students in California’s public schools. A central focus of his studies included researching and investigating the influence of leadership on empowering or disabling individual’s and group’s capacities to carry out systemic changes in schools and districts aimed to improve students’ learning levels. He studied international leaders like Lau Tzu, Vince Lombardi, Gandhi, Franklin Roosevelt, Paolo Freire, Suzuki, Chief Joseph, Cesar Chavez, Martin Luther King Jr. Guiseppe Garibaldi and Nelson Mandela. As a result of his participation in this graduate project, he earned an Administrative Services Credential and a Master’s Degree in Education Administration.
To complete requirements for a Master’s Degree, his practicum involved researching and analyzing the educational effects of the Yo Puedo (I Can) and Advanced Leadership Training high school enrichment/community participation program. He was responsible for designing, implementing and evaluating this program in his first administrative position through the Monterey County Office of Education. The program’s purpose was to educationally support high school students whose parents were migrant farmworkers in the Salinas Valley through participation in a five week summer residential program on the UC Santa Cruz campus. These educational experiences helped students develop their academic skills, study habits, interests and ambitions to consider university-orientated careers. Through participation in this program, students and adults created a strong network of relationships connected to their scholastic and career pursuits beginning at UC Santa Cruz and continuing when students returned to their local schools and communities.
The underpinning philosophy was that migrant students suffer from many disadvantages, but they also possess unique strengths that help them succeed academically: They have survived grueling lives; they routinely shoulder responsibilities for younger siblings while still children; families rely on cooperation between adults and children;, many help out to put food on the table, by following their parents into the fields on Saturdays and Sundays. After the five week residency at UCSC, students met on Saturdays at Hartnell College through a work-study project for Advanced Leadership Training. This training involved organizing Youth Leadership Conferences for elementary and junior high schoolers in the Salinas Valley. The youngsters learned from their older peers that higher education is a goal worth shooting for. High school students presented one act plays bilingually to address cultural and family hurdles many students faced in seeking a better way of life. The students learned the power of this skit format from professional actors from Luis Valdez’ Teatro Campesino who used plays to educate people about work challenges farmworkers faced in their collaboration with Cesar Chavez. Using motivated high school students to discuss these issues, kept the younger students engaged and interested in these topics that many saw mirrored in their own lives as well. The Yo Puedo program received the Golden Bell award from the California School Board Association ( one of the most prestigious educational recognition’s in California schools) based on student participants’ outcomes for increasing their grade point average, graduating from high school and the high percentages of students being accepted and enrolling in colleges and universities.
His take away from these experiences was the following: 1) within the community where challenges emerge, there are also the solutions; the key is to design and implement a learning process that enables students to open these doors of understanding and identify practical solutions; 2) a comprehensive and balanced assessment and view of individuals must be considered-physical, social, cognitive, emotional to determine strengths as well as areas of need; 3) the arts can play an important educational role to help students examine their own lives and search for ways to overcome obstacles they face while communicating their inquiry in an engaging and creative manner that conveys relevant information and possible solutions to issues to a large number of people who could benefit from the messages; 4) leadership matters and the type and orientation of the leadership is premised on the leader’s image of students, staff and the community they are responsible to serve.
These varied and diverse experience enabled him to better understand the progression from early stages of schooling/academic preparation for selection of career pathways and possibilities of university entrance. He was selected for a Doctoral Fellowship at the University of San Francisco in the area of International and Multicultural Education. His doctoral studies focused on educational systems as instruments to promote social justice through more equitable distribution of resources and student outcomes. After he earned his doctoral, he was offered a part-time teaching position at the Center for Teaching Excellence and Social Justice designed to prepare students for becoming skilled teachers at the K-12 levels while he was still serving as a principal at Sanchez Elementary School.
Every child at Sanchez School had the opportunity to develop a healthy identity fostering social, emotional, physical, and intellectual competencies. Children’s identity and associated competencies were explored in a variety of learning environments: the classroom, the community garden, the art, dance and drama studios, along with the technology studio and the community dining room and playground. This educational approach was used with teachers and other staff as well as students family members. Over the course of thirteen years, the average annual academic growth was 24 points, more than double the 11-point average growth for elementary schools in California.
Raymond and Jim Cummins, as well as several of the collaborators at Sanchez School, recently published a book entitled Transforming Sanchez School: Shared Leadership, Equity and Evidence through Caslon Publishing related to effective school leadership that builds the teachers’, families’ and community’s capacity to support accelerated and enriched student learning. Please refer to the book webpage link: https://www.caslonpublishing.