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Meet Delia Racines of From Insight to Equity in Pasadena

Today we’d like to introduce you to Delia Racines.

Can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today. You can include as little or as much detail as you’d like.
I refer to myself as Guatemadorian; my mom is from Guatemala and my dad is from Ecuador. I am a first generation immigrant, born and raised in Alexandria, Virginia, right outside of Washington D.C. and moved to Los Angeles seven years ago…almost to the date! I am very proud of where I came from, my culture, my language, and have learned to appreciate the struggles my parents had to endure to ensure my brother and I had a better opportunity. I am thankful to be in a place in my life now where I have devoted my life to giving back to the very people who need help the most.

I knew early on that I wanted to do something in my life to prevent crime and prevent children from being exposed to crime. Growing up around DC, it is very common to work toward a career in government. My intentions were to work for the FBI and wanted to be the first to graduate from college in my family. I wanted to break the cycle of poverty and knew that education would be my ticket to do so. I believe it is because of my supportive family, dedicated teachers, and strong mentors that have guided me along the way that not only believed in me…they helped me believe in myself to follow my passion and I knew that by following my passion…I would find my purpose.

With the help of my teachers and my high school guidance counselors, I filled out my application and was thankfully accepted to Virginia Tech and continued on to grad school to earn my masters in Criminology. I studied abroad to work at a local prison in Mérida, Venezuela where my research interests in criminal justice and education first intersected after I worked with kids born behind bars who were in prison with their moms. The system introduced me to education, although in the most unique setting. I loved every minute of my interactions with the parents and students. I vividly remember a play they put on for us to welcome us to their cells. After grad school, I landed my first job with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children where I admired the courage of John Walsh, who created it because a Center like it did not exist when his son went missing. I learned so much from my colleagues, many of whom I am still in contact with today. I went to work for the Office for Victims of Crime Training & Technical Assistance Center where I coordinated trainings across the country. Unfortunately, however, I found myself laid off within one year due to a lack of funding. I quickly learned my first lesson in politics at 22! I don’t believe in coincidences, however, and where I landed next is what changed the trajectory of my career.

I ended up substitute teaching in the same school in between interviews for the ‘state’ and what I didn’t expect was to completely love the group of students I worked with. I enjoyed seeing their smiles and hearing the ‘ah-ha’ moments in the classroom when students understood a concept. I gained two lifelong mentors that encouraged me to do something more proactive with my life in the field of education rather than reactive in the field of criminal justice. They asked me to stay and teach a group of students who were being taught by an exchange teacher who thought she came to the United States to teach English to native English speakers, not English to English Learners and she was unhappy with her assignment. I was unhappy with her and her treatment of our students and somehow, in that moment, a sense of advocacy was ignited in me. The students I had in my classroom looked like me and also experienced two worlds, one at home and one at school. I knew what that was like. I wanted them to be proud of their bilingual and bicultural identities. I had found my niche. I went back to school (again!) to earn my teaching license and another masters and continued on to earn my Ph.D. in Teacher Education with a focus on civil rights for English Learners. I was able to put together my passion for criminology and education. I was extensively trained as an Instructional Coach and completed training in Cognitive Coaching™ as well, which all helped me learn how to coach educators. My experience, education, and passion all came together to help me help educators ensure equitable opportunities and outcomes for all students.

Fifteen teaching and coaching years later, and here I am! It has become my life’s mission to give back to the very people that have mentored, inspired, and believed in me. I have ended up in the right city, surrounded by many English Learners that I know how to support. I have been fortunate enough to continue creating and teaching a summer intensive program for international students at USC with Rossier’s MAT-TESOL program over the past five years and serving as an administrator in Azusa. I was encouraged to open my own consulting firm after serving multiple districts to provide tailored leadership training to coaches for how to coach alongside administrators. In my experience here in California, coaches, often referred to as TOSA’s, become coaches without much support or training on how to coach and ask for support to be able to work with complex teams. I truly believe that every teacher, Instructional Coach, and administrator needs a coach. Just two weeks ago, Edutopia published my piece for tips to support instructional coaches. The amount of positive feedback I have received is overwhelming. I want to continue coaching as many educators as I can, particularly in the LA area. Angelinos are truly like no one else in this country. The cultural and ethnic diversity in LA enriches us all, and I reject the view that diversity threatens the fabric of society. If you are a teacher, instructional coach, or administrator and need support coaching or support with leadership development, please reach out at http://www.frominsighttoequity.com.

Outside of education, you can also find me empowering women and men in being the best versions of themselves and helping build a passive source of income. I have teamed up with a company that has taught me so much about leveraging the power of social media while giving back to our respective communities through Monat Gratitude. Since I was 15, I have always had a secondary source of income and have always given back to the local community where I was living. This business opportunity provides me a way to build a sense of financial independence for others, many of whom are also educators, and I have access to an enormous team of go-getters around the world who simply support each other AND give back as we build the lives we have always dreamed of for ourselves and everyone we meet. Win – win! If you’re interested in joining my team, please reach out to me @southwestHAIRlines on IG and I will coach you, at your pace, every step of the way.

Has it been a smooth road? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The road has not always been this smooth. Most of my life, especially between my 20’s and through my 30’s, I felt pretty awful. I was written off by multiple doctors I visited and really thought perhaps feeling ill was in my head. While I was able to get through classes, I never really felt well; I simply coped. Getting a diagnosis of kidney failure was definitely the best thing that ever happened to me. Having an answer and getting my kidney removed was life changing and ultimately was the catalyst to truly following my dream to get out of my comfort zone and see if I could make a difference in California. Although I had to postpone some of my PhD program after my recovery, I made a conscious decision to never waste another minute of my life, always listen to myself, and learned to be my own advocate. Now, in turn, I am grateful to have the opportunity to advocate for teachers and students and am fully committed to doing everything I can to fulfill that promise.

Since moving to California, I did experience another setback; the passing of my very dear mentor, or ‘school mom’ as I called her, Jackie Fassinger Rossell. She was the department chair I described previously who had so many thoughtful conversations with me and ultimately helped me switch careers and gave me a chance to teach although I had no experience whatsoever. I have created an endowed scholarship, The Jackie Fassinger Rossell Scholarship in her honor that I am currently raising funds for in order to provide scholarships for the students she advocated for her entire career. It’s tough not being able to share all my adventures on the west coast with her although I know she is watching over me from above and would agree that the palm trees make sitting in traffic just beautiful in California.

Tell us about your business/company. What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of as a company? What sets you apart from others?
From Insight to Equity is my consulting firm. I coach teachers, administrators, and instructional coaches with leadership team development and facilitation, support instructional coaches with coaching strategies, and teachers who wish to become instructional coaches with extensive, tailored training to support their journey. Educators also have requested technology integration as one major area for support so I do so with various programs and tech knowledge to help facilitate their work. I believe what sets me apart from others is that I coach administrators, teachers, and instructional coaches. Currently I offer to meet with teachers online with 1:1 coaching who are trying to become instructional coaches in their respective districts, however, they do not know where to begin with the research or how to facilitate certain protocols. So, we practice. I also have started coaching administrators. Many administrators I work with hardly have any consistent support. They can call another principal in their district, however, sometimes they need a sounding board to make sure their intentions with professional development or various initiatives align with what they are trying to implement. It is very common to find that schools do not have assistant principals in California and principals often do most professional development work alone.

In Orange County, I was hired by a Principal to coach a group of teachers. Their roles transitioned from traditional department chairs to instructional coaches. I met with them monthly for approximately two years through tailored professional development sessions with modules on how to coach and supported the implementation of a model to flatten leadership across the entire high school. I am most proud of winning the Shirley Hord Award from Learning Forward for this work and is what I receive the most requests to support today.

What quality or characteristic do you feel is most important to your success?
The quality I feel is most important to my success is definitely assuming positive intentions in everyone I coach and listening for the request in every single complaint I hear. One of the kindest compliments I have received is that I make teachers and administrators feel like there aren’t any problems, simply solutions that have not been put to good use yet! I believe that our mindset is everything and that if we tell ourselves that a meeting is going to be awful, it will be! What we tell ourselves may matter as much as the conversations we have with each other, so I not only have a positive approach with what I tell myself, I most importantly have a positive outlook and approach with every educator I work with. Education is such a complex field and everyone at every level in our field needs support. I enjoy what I do so very much and coach educators so they remember their why and empower them to do their best every day.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Nathan Bryan Photography (@nathanbryanphotography)

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1 Comment

  1. Terry Monjaraz

    October 7, 2019 at 16:36

    What a valuable asset you are to so many! Educators are fortunate to be able to have access to your experience, knowledge, and positive attitude. You are definitely an inspiration!

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