“From My Two Mothers: A Legacy Borne”

Hon. Thelma Boac

San Jose Berryessa Union School District Board of Trustees
Filipina Women’s Network Board Member

One would think growing up on a strawberry farm was boring and uneventful. On the contrary, I found life with my adopted parents in a small town along California’s central coast as generally idyllic. Attending community meetings with my mother or my father, even attending parties and fundraising events, were routine. Papa had been a World War II veteran who was very active in the American Legion, and Mama had been president of the Filipina Women’s Club of San Luis Obispo County since the 1950’s. Both were active in civic organizations, as they were deeply committed to volunteerism, especially helping build a vibrant community of Filipinos in San Luis Obispo County. My mother and father were key players, and benefactors as well, in the building of a Filipino Community Center in 1969 in what is now known as Grover Beach, California. The Center is still very much alive and thriving.

At the age of ten, I was already absorbing lessons on community building and decision making. This early training would prove to be valuable years later when I became involved in community organizations in my own city of San Jose, even more so when I became a school teacher and administrator, and eventually became a principal in the largest high school district in Northern California. I was the only Filipina high school principal at the time, and to date no Filipino has followed me. I believe we are destined to have a purpose. My mother taught me humility and compassion, to have faith in God and devotion to service. These values became my “Bible” for life. My mother gave me the essential tools for a life beyond my chosen profession. Could it be that Mother truly knows best? In my leadership roles today as educator, professional leadership coach for the Santa Clara County Office of Education, and elected governing board member of a San Jose school district; someone may question how was this possible that I became a sought after educator and a respected member of the community? Arrogance has no place in education, or anywhere else.

Throughout my professional life, I have been cognizant of the kind of reputation I would leave behind as I went through the journey of being a leader. I believe my reputation of bringing out the best in people, respecting them, being inclusive and collaborative, having the skills at relating to many different types of people, displaying warmth and having a sense of humor, and, most of all, knowing the competencies of the different facets of trust, (benevolence, honesty, openness, reliability, competence) have played a critical role throughout my professional career and have propelled me to the leadership positions I am holding today. Destiny and legacy indeed! And what a journey; from a life of obscurity in a village in the Philippines to being an elected official in America.