The past 27 years at the Colusa County Office of Education went by in a flash for Gloria Estrada.
Estrada retired as the county’s family engagement coordinator on Friday, but expects to have a some role as an advocate for education long into the future.
“I love this job,” said Estrada, on her last day as the liaison between the parents of students in the county’s Head Start program, and administrators, faculty, and staff. “I love my co-workers, I love the kids, I love the parents, and I love everything about it.”
Estrada said her love for showing families how to get involved in the children’s education is what has made her job easy.
“I teach parents how to advocate for themselves and their families, and I stress the importance of their involvement in their child’s life, and teach them how to be involved in their child’s education.”
From working with parents and children in the classroom to taking parents to speak to legislators at the State Capitol, Estrada said children do better in school and in life when their parents are actively involved.
Estrada, the daughter of farm workers, said she was not raised to think education was important, but that changed when she got an entry-level job in Children Services, working in a department that dealt mainly with resources and referrals.
It was before Colusa County even had a Head Start program, so she got to see the preschool’s birth and growth every step of the way.
She became a preschool teacher, but it was as the family engagement coordinator that she has made the greatest impact on the lives of students and their parents.
“What I love to hear the most from people is ‘because of this program, I am where I am today,’” Estrada said. “I love that.”
Upon her retirement, Estrada received recognition from the Colusa County Office of Education and State Sen. Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber).
Although she plans to remain active in the community and possibly return to part-time work in education in the future, she wants to enjoy her retirement volunteering in the classrooms of her own grandchildren. ■