By Toya Bailey
After being employed at East Los Angeles College since 1975, Child Development Center teacher Linda Irene Jimenez is retiring.
As a young child, Jimenez remembers playing school with her sisters and cousins all the time. Jimenez had influential teachers through most of her elementary and high school years, which ultimately gave her the urge to become a teacher.
While studying early childhood development at ELAC and taking a class with instructor Pat Rahm, which was her first professor, Rahm had opened Jimenez’s eyes and heart when she said, “The first few years of a child’s life are really crucial.”
With the impact Rahm had on Jimenez, she knew that this was where she wanted to further her studies in childhood education. Jimenez moved to Los Angeles when she was in the seventh grade and only lived in East LA for six months until her family moved to San Gabriel. They never forgot the LA community.
After graduating from California State University, Los Angeles, Jimenez was referred for an assistant director and Head teacher’s position at Mount San Antonio College. With the majority of the population being European-American, it was different than what she was used to.
While working at a record store, Linda met a custumer named Jan Fish. Fish was a director at Rio Hondo College’s Children’s Center and mentioned to Jimenez a director’s position at ELAC. Jimenez went for an interview and was offered the position a few days later.
She said she had to make a difficult decision between staying at Mount. SAC or coming to ELAC but with the love she felt from the East LA community, “It was the best decision I ever made” Jimenez said. She said she knew that there was a movement to start a children center on campus.
She said “people who fought for the center fought hard, and their hard work paid off.” Eight colleges, including ELAC offered childcare for their students. Once Proposition 13 passed, summer school programs started being cut year after year. This was disheartening for Jimenez and fellow teachers.
Little by little other cuts were made to the school system, but the school did its best and was still able to build the center. The centers move out of the bungalow, after 25 years,was monumental and different.
Jimenez said that the low level of education is due to budget cuts, and sometimes not having enough supplies to work with. She said that the governor is trying to approve more cuts that would affect families and students that want to further their education to get better jobs, and parents who need quality childcare.
Longtime friends and co-teachers of the Child Development Center, Renee Volkov and Michael Simone, said that they will have great memories of Jimenez they will never forget. “Linda has been a mentor and role model to me. We have worked together for at least 33 years as co-teachers to one another”said Volkov.
She also said she will miss her humor, which helps the day go by, and that she will never forget how Jimenez taught her to understand fairness at all times. “I will miss her inspiration and leadership that she gave to so many at the center,” Simone said.
ELAC has a current total of six employees that were formerly students and are now working at the Child Development Center. Jimenez said that after she retires, she plans on spending a lot of time with her family, as they are a big part of her life, and to teach them what she has learned.
Jimenez will be honored with a party, thanking her for all the years of devotion to the community and to ELAC. Jimenez’s last working day is June 4.