Principal Spotlight: Norma Guzman
It’s the gratitude that stands out!
When Norma Guzman, Principal of Santa Teresita School was asked to sit down with us and speak on her transition from South central to the heart of East LA, she quickly said, “where and when?”
Norma Guzman greeted us with a bright smile when we arrived, we toured the school, met the kids, and had some time to talk about the year ahead, and the moments that have made it special thus far.
CEF: What is the best part of this community?
NG: The students! The families we serve, their gratefulness for the education we provide as well as the financial help. The financial piece really does lie heavy on their hearts. When you ask them to volunteer, it’s a natural “yes” for them to give back to the community of the school. We provide the education, the nurturing, and the religious foundation, that makes our families feel confident in the structure of a Catholic school. We value knowing the student by name and truly taking time to know who they are. I believe parents know that, and that’s ultimately why they choose Santa Teresita School. The families give their children the opportunity to take the next steps to further their education. All those dreams that they want for their children, that’s what we all want! …They’re just grateful.
CEF: In only two months, have you experienced a strong sense of gratitude from the families?
NG: Everyone! Since September, it’s been overwhelming to see the amount of gratitude and kindness they have when they come to talk. They have respect for the fact that we teach the whole child. The fact that we go beyond just teaching the student throughout the day and then sending them on their way at the end of the day, we actually reach out to see how they are feeling and that is very unique to Catholic schools These things are important as the students go on and step into the world and how they handle the things that they see around them. Teaching them to have gratitude and respect. It also informs them that they are able to handle what comes their way and to stand up against the things that just don’t seem right. Our hope is that our students will walk away with the confidence and resources to be individuals who give back to their community.
CEF: Well in these fast two months since you’ve been here, are there any highlights from an event, family or a student that stand out?
NG: Being new and the first lay person here in this role has actually been a refreshing feeling, solely because of their open hearts amidst such a big change. For 68 years, the school has been led by religious [Dominican Sisters of San Jose] and so far, they have welcomed me in, and I’m excited for this year. That has made it an easy transition…but I think Sister Mary Catherine made it easy! It was one of those things where she was ready to move on and made it a point to bring me in to meet the students before her departure, [this] is what made it easy.
CEF: I know that administration is very tough and I’m sure you have many goals and challenges for the year ahead, but is there anything that you are excited for?
NG: Yes, I am excited to rethink the curriculum structure, giving the staff the training that they need, and providing them with the resources and tools to allow for their success. Giving our teachers this pays off in the classroom when executing curriculum and standards. It will make it easier for them to reach and facilitate the individual struggles and needs of our students. We are also looking forward to the evolution of new programs and teams for the students. We recently implemented an art program for grades 6-8, and we are blessed to have USC providing STEM-focused classes to our students in grades 4-6 as well. Expanding our donor-pool, integrating blended learning programs and transitioning into a more digital culture here at Santa Teresita, are some of the goals we have on the horizon.
CEF: I love how you highlighted taking small steps and gradually progressing with the change of times. Having these moments with our schools is our favorite thing! We want to thank you so much for all of your time and energy and keep up all the great work.
NG: We all have the same goal of helping the community, so it’s easy. Our future leaders are here inside of the school buildings, so let’s get it done! Whenever you need, Santa Teresita is here for you. We appreciate it.
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