A Path To Leadership | The Breakthrough Coach
A CONVERSATION WITH:
Bobbie Velasquez, Secretary to the Superintendent,
Lindsay Unified School District, Lindsay, CA

A Path To Leadership

THE BREAKTHROUGH COACH:

You have a long and varied background, encompassing both clerical support and classroom-based educational support. Can you tell us about that?

BOBBIE VELASQUEZ:

I began working in clerical support as a teenager, and stayed with it as I went through junior college. Even after I married and became a mom, I kept up my clerical skills. I started in the Lindsay School District in 1993 as a part-time teacher's assistant and elementary special education aide.

In 1995, budget cuts forced lay-offs and my job changed to part-time aide (with pull-out students) and part-time office support. The following year I became a full-time secretary to the Director of Curriculum and Instruction. My boss was promoted to Superintendent and, in 1999, I became her secretary.

THE BREAKTHROUGH COACH:

What was the situation in the office when you began working at the district level?

BOBBIE VELASQUEZ:

The curriculum department had a lot of technical tasks specific to the secretary, with less emphasis on support for my boss. She had more focus on her own technical tasks, so teamwork between us was difficult. We were just muddling through – more reacting than acting.

THE BREAKTHROUGH COACH:

When did you begin working with TBC?

BOBBIE VELASQUEZ:

In 2003, my boss and I attended TBC's 2-Day Program at the county office. I was so excited! I thought, "This is the answer to my prayers for my job!"

THE BREAKTHROUGH COACH:

How did your initial implementation of TBC's methodology work out?

BOBBIE VELASQUEZ:

Initially, we gave it a shot – for example, we moved office furniture around - but we really didn't clean out the office. We never truly internalized TBC's message and therefore, our approach was inconsistent. I was enthusiastic, but my boss wasn't on for full implementation of the methodology, so I couldn't either.

THE BREAKTHROUGH COACH:

When did things begin to change?

BOBBIE VELASQUEZ:

In 2012, when Mr. Rooney became superintendent. He was already TBC-trained and practiced the methodology with fidelity. He set meetings with our administrators to examine how each one was doing relative to TBC's principles, and delved into the systemic reasons for why each piece of the methodology was critical.

In 2013, Malachi Pancoast came to Lindsay and conducted the 2-Day Program for all district administrators. Today, new administrators attend the 2-Day Program first, and then they are supported in their implementation by Mr. Rooney.How has your job changed? Has your official job description changed? BOBBIE VELASQUEZ:

The job description was originally very technical and basic. It's gone through an informal upgrade, but it hasn't officially changed. Nevertheless, I feel fully empowered as a member of the district's leadership team.

I work with all of the school "office managers" (secretaries), and will be doing a workshop for them on TBC's methodology as part of a "Classified Professional Development Panel". I also do one-on-one training. I've suggested changes to our secretary interview process and job description to include more emphasis on problem-solving and the willingness to take on a leadership role. We want our secretaries to be empowered and knowledgeable.

THE BREAKTHROUGH COACH:

How do you measure your success?

BOBBIE VELASQUEZ:

I ask myself:

  • Are we building a level of trust? This is significant for TBC's methodology to work.
  • Am I living out the district's strategic design and working according to those principles? TBC's Management Methodology™ is a tool that enables us to do that.
  • Lindsay is one of the 16 National Race To The Top Districts because we are transforming our instructional process. Are we making progress in transforming our support/administrative processes as well?