Lessons That Last a Lifetime

Omar Escalera Joins Our Board of Trustees

Written by Jesenia Hernandez, Communications Manager

Omar shares his story with staff during the grand reveal ceremony of the new Leo Center story wall.

Broetje Family Trust has invited Omar Escalera to serve as a new member of the Board of Trustees. Omar Escalera grew up in the Vista Hermosa community at Broetje Orchards.

He shares his story here:

Imagine a 17-year-old kid who did not want to be relocated, who did not want to be in a rural community, who was angry, who felt like he was cornered, and unappreciated. I caused a whole lot of trouble at Vista Hermosa. I was a tough one, but I always felt welcomed by the community. I did not appreciate community until I started coaching. I started coaching my younger brothers, some of the Broetje kids, and boys from Prescott and Eureka when I saw that they were benched for most of the games because of the color of their skin. We formed a bond over a game of basketball. I used the gym that was built out there day and night, before it even had windows. At the center of that community has always been the ability to impact others and create long lasting and lifechanging relationships. When I started coaching, I learned about responsibility, love, and commitment. I will always call Vista my Sandlot, my home, my refuge because it saved me and changed my life. It allowed me to explore the conflicts within me and to reconcile with my family and community.

Eventually Omar became a paraeducator, teacher, principal and now has his Doctorate in Education and serves as the Executive Director of Equity Partnerships and Family Engagement at the Pasco School District. He uses the lessons and values learned at Vista Hermosa to influence his work today.

I believe that everyone deserves an opportunity. More often than not, especially in our educational system, the students that are seen as troubled, struggling with behavior, or have a language barrier are the ones that are marginalized and left behind. These kids have so much potential and promise, they just need someone to believe in them like someone believed in me. If as educators and as leaders we don’t create systems that include and incorporate the experiences, stories and pain of those marginalized communities, we are never going to understand what we need to do and how we are going to transform the system so that we can get the outcomes that we want for all our kids. At times when we say all kids, sometimes we don’t mean ‘those kids’, the ones that are marginalized.

When I had my kids, I realized that we have to create safe spaces and structures for a better future. Not for me to enjoy, but for my kids and my grandchildren.

We are in a society that takes care of ourselves first, then we help others, if we can. Broetje Family Trust is reimagining what education should look like, what community, housing, and representation should look like. The Trust is going up against the norm, and that’s something I’ve always liked to do. It’s admirable and courageous. That is what drew me to become a member of the board. I believe in the work, and I am a product of that work. I am the product of a promise that was made to me, and I want to fulfill that promise by giving back to others.

Listen to Omar Escalera reflect on community here:

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