I’m sitting outside the Mrs. Baker’s office. She’s running a little late for our interview. Finally, she arrives. Her secretary informs her that I’m here, and she immediately meets me with a smile and apologizes. We go into her office, and I sit down as she sits behind her desk. She looks comfortable, confident.
She grew up in Los Angeles with her adoptive parents. Her parents were also working in education. In high school, Baker wanted to be “either a business woman or tv weather person.”
“I like speaking in front of people” she says with a smile. She also liked math, or moreover, analytical thinking, and “in business I could be strategic.”
Though she’s new here to El Camino, Mrs. Baker isn’t new to the school district. In fact, this is her 20th year with San Juan. Before she was working with the district, though, Baker was working retail management but “it wasn’t meaningful… I wanted to make a difference.” She went to three colleges in California: La Verne where she got her masters in counseling, UC San Diego, where she majored in Economics and minored in European Studies, and Sac State, where she earned her Teaching and Administrative credentials. Baker taught for eight years, was a counselor for seven and a half, and her current occupation, a vice principal, for three and a half.
I ask her what attracted her to this job.
“Seeing things I wanted to change, but didn’t have the authority to do.” She wanted to be able to work with teachers and change things. Her goal here, she says, is to work with teachers to align classes to what they need. “Are we offering the right classes…” she exampled.
Baker says the most rewarding thing about her job is seeing students grow. Like seeing a ninth grader go from being a spaz, somewhat, to maturing and growing.
What’s the most compelling challenge with today’s education system, in your opinion, I ask her. She pauses for a moment. “Poverty. And so many children; it makes it harder for them to be successful. They’re just as smart as everybody else, but it’s harder for them.”
On a much lighter note, Mrs. Baker is a “crazy food person.” She thinks about her favorite kind of food, and says abruptly, “cheese. I love cheese.” She also loves to cook. “There’s probably no food I haven’t tried”, she adds. She enjoys all types of different food.
I ask if there’s anything she’d like to add, and she thinks for a second. “Nope..don’t think so.. I’m a crazy food person.” we laugh. I thank her and she says, “no problem.” With a smile.