by Lorie Lewis Ham
For 30 years Juan Sandoval has been working in local education–starting as a wood shop teacher, he is now Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, and State and Federal Projects, with Parlier Unified School District.
Juan spent his early years in Delano, McFarland, Richgrove and Earlimart, and then attended high school in Delano and Wasco. His college career included Bakersfield College, then Cal Poly and later CSU Fresno, CSU Bakersfield, and then Fresno Pacific University.
His desire to teach began while attending High School in Wasco. “Mr. Crabb, my Wasco High School wood shop teacher, inspired me to become a teacher just like him in Industrial Arts. He enjoyed working and teaching students.”
In 1995, Juan moved with his wife Guedelia and their family to Parlier and then to Reedley in 1998, where he still resides. His work in education has included being an Industrial Arts Teacher in wood shop, metal shop, and English Language Development. He has also been a High School Vice Principal, Principal, English Learner Director and Superintendent, and now Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction.
What has driven Juan to work in education for so many years are the students and parents, “making a positive difference in their lives.”
Superintendent of Raisin City Elementary School Anna Ramirez has worked with Juan more than once through the years and has always been impressed by his passion for helping. “I first met Mr. Sandoval several years ago when I was the Coordinator of Migrant Services for Coalinga-Huron Unified School District,” said Anna. “Every time I heard his name mentioned by other educators, it was in a very positive manner. His dedication to the children and community were unlike any other administrator.”
Anna met him again in 2012 when they worked together again in Raisin City. “Once again, I was very impressed with his passion and commitment to the student, families, and community. He went above and beyond to ensure the students were obtaining the education and support which they needed to be successful in school. He would drive a student and her parents up north to a medical facility for treatment on his own time, due to the student’s parents not having transportation or money to take their child for medically necessary treatment. This is merely one example of his dedication to helping students, and families.
“Mr. Sandoval has a very unique style of leadership that inspires everyone around him to excel. He is very humble, and not driven by power or control. He genuinely cares about all students!”
“I have known and worked with Juan Sandoval for nineteen years and within this time I have known him to be a person whose ultimate commitment is to the empowerment of students and families in the area of education,” shared another coworker of Juan’s, Sandra Ortiz. “He knows the value of education and realizes the tremendous impact it has on an individual’s life.”
Sandra currently works as the English Learner Coordinator for the Parlier Unified School District and feels blessed to be able to work with an Assistant Superintendent who has the vast amount of knowledge and experience in the area of district implementation of state and federal projects, curriculum and instruction, and district level management. “He devotes an extensive amount of time to working closely with staff in achieving his vision for students’ academic success at all school sites. Working overtime hours during the week and on weekends is not a sacrifice for Mr. Sandoval, rather he views it as a service to students and families which he finds rewarding.”
A typical day for Juan consists of closing any unfinished business from the previous day and then meeting with the Curriculum and Instruction team to plan daily activities and future plans. The later part of the day consists of visiting school sites, conducting staff development sessions, meeting with Principals and Cabinet, and meeting with parents, Board Members, and community members to address the daily student needs and accomplishments.
In his rare spare time he enjoys riding and training horses and working on projects around the house. It’s also important to him to spend time with family.
Education runs in the family as Gudelia has also worked in education for many years and is currently the Principal of Cesar Chavez Elementary School in Parlier. They have four children: Yureli, the oldest, is a graduate of CSU Fresno and currently a teacher, Antonio is a graduate of FIDM and is currently a clothing designer, Juan Octavio is attending CSU Fresno as a freshman majoring in Criminology, and Adaniza is a senior in Reedley High.
“We’re all products of my parents’ hard work and dedication towards education and it’s reflected not only in us, their children at home, but in all the children in the public schools because there was never a difference between myself and one of my parents’ students,” shared Antonio Sandoval. “All my peers growing up who were taught at one point, by either one of my parents, were pushed and encouraged with the same ambition that was performed at home.
Being a young and successful entrepreneur in my career of design, as well as a fine arts educational mentor for disabled children in Southern California, I’m proof of what my parent’s passion for education can accomplish.”
After his 30 years in various areas of education, Juan has decided to run for Fresno County Superintendent of Schools, where he feels with his experience he can make contributions and promote positive change and improvement at the county level.
As to what he hopes to do if he wins, “It’s an exciting time to make effective changes in education with the new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and the Local Control Accountability Plan which requires the participation of parents, community, and all key stakeholders within the education system,” shared Juan. “For the first time, in approximately five years, school districts did not suffer budget cuts, which allows schools to focus on students. I expect to promote safe schools and close the Achievement Gap by providing educational programs that are rigorous and challenging to our students, so that they can compete in the Global World Job Market.”
“As a Superintendent of a rural school district, I am very pleased that Juan Sandoval is running for County Superintendent of Schools,” stated Anna Ramirez. “I think he would be an asset to our Educational System at that level. He has worked hard, and proven himself as an educator. His ethics, passion, and integrity for true education, makes him the perfect role model for what a leader should be!”