|“At La Paz, our students are very fortunate," says Carroll.
Principal Jean Carroll is a local legend because she is doing everything in her power to help students in Mission Viejo grow up and be successful.
On Feb. 22 her school, La Paz Intermediate hosted its second annual Career Day. And not just any career day, there were 40 community members sharing their careers with the students.
“The students enjoyed hearing from a variety of speakers including attorneys, business professionals, athletes, and radio personalities. The students also shared with the speakers their Career Exploration presentation boards and five boards were recognized with ‘Community Choice Awards,’ ” Carroll says.
Some of the guests included Amy Stoody, Radio Commentator for KNX Radio, Will Conk of Oakley Sunglasses, and Vazken Nargizian, Footwear Developer of Soletechnology, parent company to Etnies, just to name a few.
Carroll says while being an educator may not be the top career choice today due to budget cuts and more, she is still glad that she decided to enter the field.
“I was in my late 20s when I returned to the United States after living in France for 8 years, and I decided to give teaching a try,” she says. “I absolutely fell in love with the kids.”
She also mentions that often, the general public gets it wrong about teachers.
“Sometimes, people think teaching is a great job because teachers have long summer vacations. And it is true that summers are great but teaching is a great job because each year brings a new set of kids and a new opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our children.”
As principal, she helps students mostly by supporting the teachers.
“At La Paz, our students are very fortunate. Our teachers are masters of the art of teaching and they care about each and every child’s success. In addition, I help students by being available: finding a lost backpack, guiding a student through a two-step equation, getting lunch for a student who has no money, being part of a video productions class student video and attending student plays and concerts,” she reports.
She adds that working with middle school students keeps her young and surprisingly sane.
“The students have a love of life, hopefulness and spontaneity and that is simply contagious. Each day is new and exciting,” she says.
One of her favorite things is working with “student greeters” who share what they are learning in the classroom.
“I really enjoy talking with the kids about ‘school,’ ” she explains. “I always learn something interesting. I am also fortunate to speak Spanish fluently. It is always rewarding to help a Spanish-speaking parent or student navigate our American school system.”
Born and raised in San Diego, Carroll is the daughter of a government worker, and the family moved every 2 or 3 years. Throughout her childhood, she lived in California, Texas, New York, the Bahamas, North Dakota, Canada, Louisiana, and Kansas.
Today, she is the mother of two, a son, Guillaume, who lives in Glendale and is a director of a learning center and a daughter, Clara, who preparing to go to law school.
When not at school, Carroll enjoys riding her bike about 150 to 200 miles a week depending on the weather.
She earned her BA from the University of Kansas in Political Science and French, and attended Fresno State for her Teaching Credential (Spanish and French). Her Master’s is in Educational Administration from Cal State – San Bernardino.