grew up in the Mexican barrios of San Antonio and never finished high school as a teen. But during a lifetime of working and going to school she became living proof that you are never too old to learn and it?s never too late to start.
Josie Steelman grew up in the Mexican barrios of San Antonio and never finished high school as a teen. But during a lifetime of working and going to school she became living proof that you are never too old to learn and it?s never too late to start.
She also embodies how Rancho Cordovans have long stretched out a hand to people from around the world.
Along the way, she found a way to bring these two passions together. Like many longtime Rancho Cordovans, Josie Steelman came to Rancho Cordova when her husband Dale got a job at Aerojet. He later went to work at McClellan AFB where he worked for 30 years. Meanwhile, Josie got to work at her neighborhood school, Cordova Villa.
Watching teachers at work eventually prompted Josie to decide she needed to get back to school herself. Because records had been lost, Josie started in the 10th Grade at the Folsom Cordova Adult School, racking up straight A?s.
Working at Cordova Villa as the first parent coordinator in the school district, Josie kept detailed scrapbooks of multicultural plays she organized. She and another parent built a mock up of a school bus so she could show kids what it feels like to be forced to sit in the back. She got her high school diploma, but that was not enough.
When she decided it was time to go to college, she took the scrapbooks with her and was awarded 8 credits on the spot at Sacramento State. She sat next to 18-year old fellow classmates, but says she had the advantage of living life on her side. It took her 10 years of summer school classes, but she emerged with a Bachelor?s Degree in Ethnic Studies.
Juggling a family of six growing children, keeping busy as parent coordinator at Cordova Villa School and attending college might have been enough for some people, but not Josie.
As parent coordinator she began to attend school board meetings and was shocked by how little school board members knew about what was going on in the schools. Josie knew bus drivers and custodians, teachers and parents, and decided she knew more about the school system than all the board members put together.
When she made her audacious run for the school board, she was supported by them all, and won.
During her school board tenure, she was instrumental in the establishment of the White Rock Family Center, a partnership with Mercy Healthcare, where free medical care is given to needy children and families. It continues today.
She said that and her many multicultural efforts make her most proud.
Josie Steelman has celebrated education and diversity in countless ways during her days in Rancho Cordova. It started with the families of navigators who came from around the world to train at Mather and continued with the arrivals of immigrant families from Southeast Asia, the former Soviet Union, and now Mexico.
Somehow, Josie built an entire life around the importance of education and the celebration of diverse cultures. And she did it long before it was in style.
Josie, you have lived a life that demonstrates the importance of accepting other cultures. Through your own inspirational life story, we know that anybody can get an education if only they will try.
Thank you for being an inspiration to many, and a friend to all.