2004 Inductee - Olivia Sosa-Kropp


2004 Inductee - Olivia Sosa-Kropp

EDUCATION

Every year thousand of immigrants come into our school speaking little of no English. Miraculously most of them graduate from high school and many go on to college because of educators like Olivia Sosa-Kropp.

As Assistant Director of the San Joaquin County Migrant Education Program, Olivia has been instrumental in establishing programs for migrant parents and migrant students. The Migrant Regional Office has worked with the Mexican Consulate to create evening literacy workshops, with other community groups such as Concilio, and the Housing Authority to improve the lives of our migrant families.

“I have always felt I had to get the best grades, do the job better & work harder to prove myself. Good for me wasn’t good enough my work had to be outstanding. In many cases I felt I had to be a role model, not only to my family, but to the other Latina women whom I taught in my classroom & those I came across in the community that I represent,” states Olivia.

Olivia was chairperson of the Miss Hispanic Scholarship pageant from 1981 to 1994. “I volunteered my time in working with the young Latina contestants since I had at one time competed for the Miss Mexico of Los Angles pageant in 1970. Not only did we focus on poise and beauty, but on their speaking skills and focusing on their educational pursuits and commitment to the community.”

In 1973 she became a Ballet Folklorico coordinator with Dorothy Astorga. “I became a volunteer assistant with the group for over 10 years, even after I got married and had children.”

Her teaching career started in Tracy after she completed the Teacher Corps program at UOP in 1975. For 16 years she was a bilingual teacher; she was a Migrant Education Resource Teacher for two years in Stockton. She had her own class at Valenzuela School before teaching in Lodi Unified.

“I enjoyed teaching in bilingual programs and assisting the families of the children in my classrooms and in my school, simply because I was giving back to my Latino community.”

Linda Mora, made Olivia an administrator when she asked her to become a resource teacher to assist teachers who work with English Learners. In 1975 she changed jobs and started with the San Joaquin County Office of Education in the Multilingual Office but left in 2000 to start her current job.

“Throughout my career I have chosen to work with programs that involve the Latino Community and children who are English Learners. I had to go through what my students have gone through and I know how difficult it is to learn a new language and try to fit into a new culture without giving up your heritage and your home language. I understand the dreams that parents have for their children and I have been an advocate for them and their concerns throughout my career.”

“Our students are still behind academically but our graduation rate is increasing every year and the number of scholarships is also on the rise. Since I began teaching I have been involved in CABE at the state and local level. Our local chapter focuses activities on raising funds for graduates who want to pursue a college education, although not necessarily to become teachers. Every year when we interview the finalist for the CABE scholarships we realize how much need there is for our minority students who have the desire and the academic qualifications to pursue a higher education.”

Linda Mora was her supervisor/coordinator when they both worked for Lodi Unified. She remembers when Olivia helped her start a “Trainer of Trainers” program to get the district back into state compliance regarding teacher training. “She addressed many hostile teachers who were training for the CLAD or BCLAD ( credentials that allow teachers to teach English Learners) because she believed that bilingual education was important for our Latino children. I envied her patience and understanding, even under the most difficult situations, she never wavered in what she believed in and the drive she has always had to service her ‘gente’.” states Linda.

Olivia has thoughts of entering politics after retirement, possibly becoming a school board member in Sacramento.