Teresa Parra didn't complete her senior year in high school, and fear of failure kept her out of classrooms for seventeen years afterward. Bigger than her fear of failure, however; was the fear that people would judge and think less of her once they discovered she didn't have a high school diploma. She took that fear and turned it into action by taking the GED test at San Bernardino Adult School. Supporting her decision, her husband suggested that she take the test without first taking the preparation class, just to see how she would do. Since San Bernardino Adult School is a test administration site, Teresa followed her husband's suggestion, passed the test, and was awarded her GED High School Equivalency Certificate.
Teresa's goal of obtaining her GED certificate was based on her desire to be a role model for other parents. According to a brief biography, "She believes building parent participation and strengthening family and community collaboration are crucial to effectively educating children." Vice Principal Janice Roselius writes in her nomination of Teresa, "She wanted them to continue their education so that they would be examples to their children and reinforce the importance of finishing high school. She also wanted the parents to help their children succeed in school and become successful members of society rather than being labeled as failures for not performing up to their potential."
Earning her GED gave Teresa the confidence to pursue her goals. She became a parent volunteer in her children's classrooms, and later a member of the PTA, serving as Council President. She received her GED certificate in 2000 and in 2001 was elected to the San Bernardino Unified School District Board of Education where she currently serves as Vice-President. She also works on the staff of State Senator Nell Soto in her San Bernardino district office. Teresa's impressive resumé names far too many community organizations, awards and honors to be named here, but they pale in comparison to her desire to be an example to the parents and children of the school district she serves. Successfully overcoming her challenges has given Teresa great empathy for students who are faced with their own challenges and unique barriers to success. The power of her single voice was magnified with her completion of high school, and today she speaks for others and brings about change where change is needed. Understanding that there are many more like her who face difficult challenges Teresa contributes to her community by sharing personal experiences and persuading others of the power of education.
"Mrs. Parra has a unique perspective about education because she got a 'second chance' to complete high school through adult education," continues Janice Roselius. "That perspective both reflects and influences how she performs her duties as a school board member and as a leader in her community."