The assignment that Calla High School teacher Linda Dixon crafted for herself was simple.
Find out who was the first African American teacher in the Manteca Unified School District, and find out who was the first to pace the same halls that she has spent the last 34 years of her career navigating.
She had no idea when she set out to discover the information – a church project she was undertaking to fall in line with Black History Month – that her name would top the list in at least one of the two categories.
“From what they could tell in the records I was the first female African American teacher at Calla High School,” Dixon said – noting that she began the job in 1977. “Part of why we did this at church is to show the young people the accomplishments that were made and to encourage them – to show them that they can do these things and more.
“I definitely think that’s an achievement and it has a little bit of extra meaning for me since it is Black History Month.”
But making racial inroads was nothing new for the Stockton native who started blazing trails back when she was in middle school. Dixon started off as the first African American head cheerleader while in middle school, served as the first black mascot at Franklin High School and was honored as the first African American finalist for prom queen.
The year after she graduated, Franklin elected its first black prom queen – something that meant and still means a lot to her.
And not long after she graduated she would making another splash as the first African American to work in the new accounts arena at the Stockton branch of Bank of America. It was a job that she would hold until she decided to go into education three years later.
Making the jump to the classroom, however, wasn’t too far of a leap for somebody who remembers pretending to be a teacher when playing with her brother and sister as a child.
She took her education job at Calla High School in 1977 and has been there ever since teaching health, drivers education indoor PE and yearbook. She has also served as the school’s testing coordinator and been the on-site administrative liaison for former Principal Lindsay Munoz.
While she’s proud of the work that she’s done in the field of education, Dixon says that it’s time to shift into relax mode and focus on taking things easy.
“I do like this age group and I love working with the kids, but I’m getting tired,” she said. “I’m just not a morning person and it’s getting harder to wake up in the morning.
“I think it’s time to move on.”
Dixon’s fiancé – who started dating her in 2003 – says he couldn’t be prouder to have her in his life and know of the amazing work she’s done as an African American female and an educator.
“When we met and started dating I could tell that she was just a wonderful person and a great role model for those kids,” Timothy Flowers said. “I never had the chance to go to my prom, and she’s taken me to hers every year and it’s there that I can see the impact that she has on these kids – the more I learned the more I was drawn to her.
“She deserves the greatest accolades for all that she has accomplished. I’m just happy to say she’s a part of my life.”