Today, he is Dr. Jeff Tilton. After June 2014, the longtime educator and Manteca High School graduate could be responding to a new title: Superintendent of Stanislaus County Office of Education.
The upcoming mid-year election is more than a year away, but the New Jerusalem School District administrator has already started his quest with a campaign platform powered by the slogan, “Putting Students First!”
“I look forward to the opportunity to lead the Stanislaus County Office of Education. There is so much to do and so much that can be done, especially in building partnerships and leveraging resources with our community agencies in an effort to drive student success,” said Tilton who received his Ph.D. in Education Administration and Curriculum and Instruction from the University of the Pacific in Stockton.
Tilton is talking about grassroots-level, “really simple” partnerships that have the potential for creating wide-ranging and long-running educational and quality-of-life impacts on area youth. A case in point: the local Chamber of Commerce working in concert with area schools.
“Just about every community has a Chamber of Commerce, and creating that partnership is really powerful,” he said, either to help students prepare for the world of work through mentorships, internships, or just having another adult in their lives, and opening a potential opportunity for job placement.
Service clubs such as Rotary, Lions, and Soroptimist can also play the same role, Tilton said.
“They are there to serve; that’s their passion,” to help shepherd the young of today succeed in the world of work either through mentorship or partnership, he added.
Partnering with local community colleges and universities, including the private institutions, is “one area that we can do a better job at,” especially in the kindergarten to 12th-grade levels, Tilton pointed out. Many of these young students are eventually going to college, so there should be no barriers between those schools and the higher institutions of learning in the area, he said.
The other part, and an indirect reward to developing these partnerships, “would be, that we’re keeping our youth here,” Tilton opined. “There’s not going to be a flight to the Bay area or Southern California, or Phoenix, Arizona,” thus preventing a brain drain and making local communities stronger in the process.
“I’m just speaking from my heart,” added Tilton who was recently inducted into the Modesto Rotary Club. He is actually a returning Rotarian following an eight-year hiatus when he moved to Portland, Oregon. He was a two-time Paul Harris Fellow with the Modesto Rotary during his first membership round.
Tilton’s family roots run deep in Manteca. While at Manteca High, he played football, basketball, baseball, and ran track. He was also in student government. He graduated in 1979. After receiving his bachelor’s degree from California State University, Stanislaus (he played college football both at Delta College and Humboldt State – he was injured during a game at the latter), he went back to his high school alma mater and taught English. He also coached football, wrestling and baseball for the Buffalo teams. His 1987-92 stint at Manteca High was his only teaching job. The rest was in administration and management. While at Manteca High, he created a Buffalo newspaper partnership with the Manteca Bulletin. The school paper, in fact, came out as a weekly insert in the Bulletin.
That was not his only involvement in journalism and newspaper work. Tilton also worked as a sports writer for the now-defunct Manteca News, the Stockton Record, Ceres Courier, and Modesto Bee, and later became sports editor for the Bulletin and the Oakdale Leader.
His parents – his father, Carl, was a businessman, and his mother, Dorothy, was a teacher’s aide at Lincoln Elementary – now live in Ripon. His sister, former Miss Manteca Paula Tilton Lewis, as well as his brother, Ron (he is the husband of Manteca City Clerk Joan Tilton), still make their home in the Family City. Oldest brother Dave, a writer and musician, lives in Vallejo. Tilton and wife Shalice are the parents of two grown children.
In the past decade prior to joining the New Jerusalem Elementary School District in Tracy, Tilton also was an adjunct faculty at Portland State University, University of San Diego, and Chapman University in Orange, Calif., in addition to being an adjunct faculty supervisor for Grand Canyon University of Phoenix, Ariz. He is currently the director of operations and school improvement at New Jerusalem.