Blanca Rochin a leader at Downey Adult School and in the community

DOWNEY - Blanca Rochin became a major member of the leadership team at Downey Adult School in 2008 when she was appointed assistant principal. Since that time, she has seen tectonic realignments in the district, driven mainly by budget considerations but also by other presumably equally important factors.

For instance, former DAS principal Roger Brossmer was named, in succession, DUSD director of adult education, senior director of personnel services, and assistant superintendent for human resources, while dabbling (quite effectively, it might be said) as concurrent city councilman and one-time city mayor.

Taking his place in the driver's seat at DAS was Phil Davis, he of CTE distinction, who took the title of director of support services while also assuming direct oversight of adult school operations.

A 2008 master's in education (educational leadership) graduate of Concordia University in Irvine (she obtained her bachelor of arts in human development from Azusa Pacific University in 2004), Blanca considers the CTE (vocational nursing, medical billing/coding, pharmacy technician, clinical medical assistant, massage therapy, clinical dental assistant, orthodontic assistant, paralegal, court reporting, etc.), ESL (includes citizenship), and high school diploma/GED programs at DAS as its core offerings and therefore the chief claimants on her attention.

This is not to say, she says, that the other courses, such as career/personal enhancement (notary public, arts & crafts (painting, jewelry, floristry, sewing, traffic school, cake decorating, sign language, baking, scrapbooking, digital photography, etc.), exercise & fitness (aerobics, circuit training, restorative yoga, cardio plus, etc.), parent education, and classes for 55-plus adults (computer basics, brain fitness, Photoshop elements), are any less important: the focus on each is a matter of degree.

The fact that DAS has been hailed as one of the more highly-functioning adult schools in the state is a matter of record. Blanca says DAS, which today has a total enrollment of 8,000 and trending upward, is very 'customer-friendly' because, for one thing, it offers financial aid to those who qualify, and its teachers-both full-time and part-time, who all possess degrees and are properly credentialed--are "excellent."

In addition, she says, even enrollees from out of state take advantage of its online programs (which constitute about 20 percent of total student enrollment), especially its paralegal and court reporting courses.

As well, DAS has enjoyed the full support of the DUSD leadership, she says.

"Anyway," Blanca emphasizes, "my main mission here is to make sure my students are trained and prepared for gainful employment."

She adds: "And because we have a friendly, family environment here, we don't experience frequent turnovers among our staff and teachers. We love what we do."

"Let it be noted also," she says, "that we at DAS have in the meantime committed ourselves to the principles and spirit of Character Counts. We have signage all over proclaiming this, and the message is instilled in the student at every opportunity, such as when discipline is called for."

Blanca, who was born in Sonora, Mexico, and is married to Mark Freeman, who serves as national sales manager for Yamasa Manufacturing, will be installed July 1st as the incoming president of the 36-member Soroptimist Club of Downey, whose membership includes such Downey lady luminaries as Arlene Lopez, Beth Crawford, Beverly Mathis, Carol Rowland, Chris Ciatti, Claudia DeLeon, Dianne Lumsdaine, Dorothy Pemberton, Giovanna Saab, Jan Scott, Jean Brazelton, Joyce Prokop, Judy McDonnell, Kari Johnson, Lee Ann Sears, Linda Haines, Lorine Parks, Mia Vasquez, Pat Heineke, Patricia Kotze and Vicki Spearman.

She says she is adopting "Dreams Inspire Potential" as her slogan for next year to encourage the membership, which has been involved in a lot of impact projects as well as causes over the years, and the community to dream of ways to develop the great potential that lies in everyone.

"Our big meeting in August is when we'll develop this plan," she says.

Blanca has also just been appointed parks & recreation commissioner in March by city councilmember Alex Saab.

She's meanwhile otherwise involved in the usual activities of other professional associations pertaining to her field.

One of four children, Blanca has two adult daughters: Erika, 25, a 2005 Warren High graduate, has a bachelor's degree from UC Irvine, works for Kaiser Permanente, and is working on her MBA degree at Concordia University, while Elena, 23, a 2008 product likewise of Warren High, is currently a sub for DUSD, just obtained her bachelor's from UC Riverside, and plans to pursue her master's in school psychology.

Blanca says one of her great memories from her high school days at Garfield High School in East L.A. was the presence on campus of the legendary calculus teacher, Jaime Escalante.

She has also done some traveling, having visited such places as Eastern Europe, Russia, China and South America.

Prior to her appointment as DAS assistant principal, she first taught a medical assistance course in 2004 and became chair of the nursing department. Her previous work experience included a 1993-98 stint at UCLA doing AIDS research and as a part-time teacher (CTE/ROP/health careers) from 2002-2005 for the Paramount Unified School District.

********** Published: June 27, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 11