When Nancy Teicheira was first elected to the Manteca Unified School Board in 1998, she had a very specific goal in mind.
But in the 20 years that she served the district, Teicheira saw her outlook on public education and those that work within the system change drastically – becoming equal parts a champion for the agricultural community she strove to represent, and the teachers and staffers that go to work every day to help educate the future generation of Americans.
And while she felt that she succeeded in many of her initial goals and was therefore ready to walk away from the position that served in for two decades, there are elements of the job that she is going to miss as well.
“It’s all about making decisions based on what is in the best interest of the children,” Teicheira said. “And there was nothing more rewarding than handing out the diplomas at graduation and seeing their smiles after all of the years they worked hard for them.
“But there were challenging elements as well, like when no matter what you decide, you’re always 50 percent right, and 50 percent wrong – no matter what you do, half of the people aren’t going to agree with you, so you just have to make what you think is the best decision for the kids.”
And while the priorities of the district shifted during Teicheira’s tenure, her unabashed defense of the district’s agricultural programs – and the school farm – never wavered.
When the district agreed to annex the district office on Lousie Avenue into Manteca’s city limits so that the facility could hook up to the city’s water and sewer system, Teicheria made sure that safeguards were built into the existing school farm so that growth and development wouldn’t prevent students from being able to do the things out there that they always have.
At the end of the day, Teicheira said, having a healthy understanding of farming – and the processes that go into it – is beneficial even to people who won’t ever actually step foot onto a farm.
“As society drifts away from farming more and more, less people seem to have an idea about what is actually going on and where their food comes from,” Teicheira said. “They don’t like the smell or the dust or the work, but they don’t take the time to learn about the industry – they don’t know how it works.
“Even if you’re a banker, you have to understand how the system works for when the farmer comes in and takes out a loan – you have to know that some seasons are better than others, and how the weather plays a role in the harvest and therefore the ability to pay back the loan. And in a farming community, that extends out to everywhere – and nobody is paying attention to that stuff anymore. I wanted to make sure that it stayed.”
While Teicheira’s pick to succeed her on the board – Andrea Collins-Cambra, another South Manteca farmer – wasn’t elected, Teicheria said that she has high hopes for the woman that will take your seat, as well as the rest of the board as they grapple with the decisions that affect tens of thousands of children.
As the lone board member who voted against the Going Digital initiative, Teicheria said that she hopes the board will ultimately revisit the decision – calling the move of putting a computer in every child’s hand a “mistake” – but encouraged the new trustees to vote their conscience and what they thought was in the best interest of the students.
“It’s very enjoyable being on the board, and like anything you have your good days and your bad days,” she said. “Focus on the good days, and the good things, and don’t let our differences divide you.”
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.