At 61, after more than 35 years in the education field, Riverbank Unified School District Superintendent Joseph Galindo is retiring.
Rather than leave education, his retirement affords him the opportunity to focus on personal education and growth -- like finishing his doctorate.
"Unification of schools took a toll," he said, explaining how his superintendent job sidetracked his own education.
Galindo had nearly finished is doctorate at University of the Pacific in Stockton when he took over as Riverbank's superintendent in 1995. In 1997, he established what's now known as Riverbank Unified School District by fusing Riverbank Elementary School District and a portion of Oakdale Joint Union High School District.
In November 2006 Galindo lost to Tom Changnon in an effort to become Stanislaus County superintendent of schools.
Galindo took time recently to talk about his career and his future:
Q: Tell me more about your education.
A: I grew up in Oakland, so I attended Oakland public schools. Then I went to a community college in Oakland, Laney Community College. I went to Cal State, Chico, where I got my BA and my master's. Then, I went to University of California at Riverside for my credential in 1971.
When I got out of college, I wanted to work in Monterey. I almost did. And the week I got the contract, I got drafted into the Army for two years.
When I got out, I went to work in Merced.
Q: Where else have you worked?
A: After Merced, I worked in Riverside, then Modesto, then Riverbank. I taught special ed, then started counseling. I got a counseling credential at UCR. I was the dean of students at Modesto High before I was hired as the middle school principal in Riverbank. (Then Superintendent Paul Hewitt) asked me to apply. I've worked in Riverbank now for 20 years.
The opportunities came to me.
Q: Why retire now?
A: You get to a point where you look at things and see everything is lined up and it's a good time to walk away.
I'd like to enjoy good health, too. This is a good time to enjoy what I have.
Q: What are your retirement plans?
A: I'll see if I can go back to school to finish my Ph.D. If there's any interim work in education, I'd be happy to help with that for a while.
I'll be able to spend a lot of time with my wife, doing projects together.
Q: What's your greatest accomplishment?
A: Anything I've done, any success I've had, I've had it as a team. It was because I worked with a great group of people. And without my wife's support and help, I wouldn't be where I am today.
I'm proud of the district unification, and winning support for the (general obligation) bond in 2005 for district improvements. We've established a community-oriented program here, focused on developing students' assets for learning -- like family support and relationships with teachers. The more assets they have as kids, the fewer problems they'll have in the future. As long as we have that in place, anything we do will be a success.
And I'm proud of the dual-language program (at Rio Altura Elementary School).
We have one of the highest populations of English-learners in the county and our test scores continue to improve.
And we've made $20 million worth of improvements without using bond money.
Q: Any regrets?
A: Not establishing this community approach years ago. ... That's going to be key to making our kids better citizens. The way we treat our kids today is the way they'll treat us tomorrow.
Q: What advice do you have for new teachers?
A: Look for the joy in kids because there's a lot of joy. Share it. Live it. Model it.
Bee staff writer Eve Hightower can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2382.