Part I: Those Who Shape Our Lives
People are often asked, “Who was an influence in your life when you were growing up?” or “Who did you look up to when you were young?” For me, it was my teachers. Especially, the ones who took the extra time to help me master a difficult subject, who took an interest in me and encouraged me, and who never made assumptions about me because I’m an introvert.
Yes, there are bad teachers, but I would like to believe that there are more exemplary teachers than ones who are simply putting in their time until they retire. I’ve seen the harm that a bad teacher can inflict on a student. This has ranged from favoritism, failure to identify a learning disability, passing someone who can’t read at grade level, and public ridicule. One person I know, who recounted an upsetting time in school when a teacher announced to his classmates that he wasn’t going to “amount to anything.” Today, that individual is highly successful and has been able to retire at fifty, yet still bears the emotional sting that those words produced.
Fortunately, for California’s 42nd district (comprising Southeastern California including the communities of Corona and Murrieta), there is a teacher, Julia Peacock, who is someone parents would hope to be involved in their child’s life. She has a B.A. in American Literature & Culture and a Master’s of Education. She has taught 7th grade English Language Arts at Mountain View Middle School in Moreno Valley, Ca.; reading intervention and a GED program at Boys Republic in Chino Hills, Ca.; and reading intervention, sophomore English, and mentors peer counselors at Perris High School in Perris, Ca. On her campaign webpage, she explains, “I have always worked in low-income, high risk schools because I believe education is the great equalizer when it comes to being able to change your life circumstances for the better.”
She was born in Virginia and her family moved to California when she was twelve-years-old. Sadly, two years before they moved to California, her mother died in a car accident and seventeen years ago, her father died of cancer. She writes, “Mine has not been an easy life journey, but these experiences have only made me stronger and more determined.”
Twenty-two years ago, she married her husband and fourteen years ago they moved to South Corona with their son and daughter. She enjoys her family life along with spending time with friends, reading, watching movies, and learning, which includes learning from her students.
“The fear and vitriol Trump spread his entire candidacy,” his subsequent election, and the emotional toll that was wrought on her schools’ students, who are 89.3% Hispanic, galvanized her to become an activist and, eventually, run for office. Her journey led her from “Pantsuit Nation,” “Together We Will,” Indivisible42, competing to become a delegate for the California State Assembly, and finally to running for California’s 42nd Congressional District against Republican incumbent Ken Calvert.
As of a member of Indivisible42: “I led their demonstrations’ team and followed Calvert all over inside and outside our district. He never once met with any of his constituents, instead spending all of his time meeting with officials who already thought he was wonderful and big dollar donors who paid lots of money for him to vote according to their needs. He snuck out the back door of meeting places to avoid even talking to ordinary constituents like teachers, nurses, and retirees. Finally, I had had enough and threw my hat in the race. I’ve never looked back and that was February 27, 2017.”
If she wins the November election, it will be difficult to leave her students and they will be disappointed to see her leave. She explained a possible win to them in these terms: “Right now, I have the opportunity to positively affect the lives of 170 students per day. As a Congresswoman, I will have the opportunity to positively affect millions of students all over the country. When I told my students that, I received their blessing with the promise that I would give them a shout out from D.C.!”
Check back next week for Part II: Education, Betsy DeVos, and Those Pesky Bears