Former Tri-Valley teacher and parent volunteer Yanira Guzmán is looking to achieve a variety of education priorities while also enhancing community representation on the Livermore school board this fall.
A trained educator who previously taught Spanish language immersion and later worked in the technology field before starting her own career coaching business, Guzmán is campaigning for the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District Board of Education with goals of improving communication, access, collaboration and partnerships, and adding a Latinx presence to the dais.
"Education is a way of life for me; it's what I believe and have lived," Guzmán told the Weekly after announcing her bid for school board.
"I strongly believe that community is built by the way we make others feel. With respect, compassion and empathy, we can create a community -- inclusive of all voices, perspectives and socio-economic backgrounds. Through unity and strength, we move towards the betterment of all Livermore students and their families," she added on her campaign website, which posts all information in English and Spanish side-by-side.
Guzmán is on the Nov. 3 ballot with four other candidates vying for a pair of at-large seats on the LVJUSD board: incumbent Chuck Rogge and newcomers Kandiss Hewing, Asa Strout and Kristie Wang.
At least one board position is for sure to change hands in the general election, as incumbent Chris Wenzel opted not to seek re-election.
Running with a campaign mantra of "Unity and Strength -- Unidad y Fuerza," Guzmán said she'll look to use the communication skills she cultivated as a teacher and career coach to listen to Livermore families and serve their interests on the school board.
Improving access to academic and creative school programs for all students as another priority for Guzmán.
"Many of our immigrant and low-income families do not have the access, nor the skill set, to gather needed school information. COVID-19 has surfaced this known reality. In addition to providing students with wifi and hardware (Chromebooks), to our most vulnerable students, there is still a gap in providing digital literacy," she said on her campaign site.
"Just as one does not learn how to read by being given a book, the same holds true for digital literacy," she added. "One must be taught how to navigate the new digital terrain, especially in the wake of long-distance learning. Together, we can eliminate this gap and provide students’ access."
Guzmán said she will also look to increase partnerships between LVJUSD and public and private entities to open up new opportunities for local students. "By working together, we can continue to provide our students, the future talent, of our local Bay Area economy, a quality education with the necessary college and career readiness skills for future job roles," she said.
She also hopes her addition to the dais will help the Board of Education become more representative of the diversity in the Livermore community.
"As a parent of children in Livermore schools, a previous English learner (EL), a Spanish-speaker, and an active professional of the Latino community, it is important that the board reflects the local community," Guzmán said. "Latinos currently make up 30% of our student population. It is time that our voice is not only heard, but becomes an integral part of our local governance."
A daughter of Mexican immigrants, Guzmán was raised in Hayward and earned a bachelor's degree in sociology from UC Berkeley and a master's degree in education from San Francisco State University. She taught Spanish language immersion classes in the Hayward and Pleasanton school districts before shifting into technology with IBM. She now operates a career coaching business, The Career Gem.
Her two school-aged children attend the dual immersion program at Junction Avenue K-8 School. Guzmán previously served on the LVJUSD Citizens' Oversight Committee for Measure M and the Junction School Site Council.
To learn more about Guzmán's campaign, visit www.yanira4lvusd.com.