Oscar Garcia may be a new face as the new Vice Principal at Winters Middle School this school year, but he’s right at home here in the Winters Joint Unified School District. Garcia is a Winters High School Class of 1990 alumni, and was a Winters student starting as a Kindergartner. Garcia said the sense of community and support is what brought him back to Winters. Community support and participation in his youth has given him a real pride for our community. Growing up he saw how community members and parents gave up their time to provide youth with opportunities to develop positive habits and attitudes toward sports and school. Garcia’s experience as a Winters student served as inspiration to become an educator and to pay it forward by providing it to students and families at school sites he has worked at. “I love Winters. I know Winters to be a place where families in the community, staff at a school or students have a sense of working together and collaborating to provide support for our kids,” said Garcia. “For me, I feel blessed because I feel that I benefited from that support that allowed me to pursue my interest whether it was playing little league baseball, Pop Warner football or high school baseball.” Garcia said after high school he realized he wasn’t going to be able to pursue college athletics, but knew he wanted to stay involved in coaching and working with children and pursued the pathway to become a teacher. He attended Yuba College for a year before transferring to Sacramento City College and eventually California State University, Sacramento. He finished his college tenure receiving a bachelor’s degree in social science and a master’s degree in multicultural education. He started his teaching career at Lee Middle School in Woodland. He noted Mike Stevens, his former WMS wood shop teacher, was the principal at Lee Middle School at the time. “I felt lucky that he was there because he’d talk to me all the time and helped me reflect on teaching during those first couple of years,” said Garcia. Garcia was at Lee Middle School for 14 years, and additionally served as a vice principal and principal for four years in the Sacramento City Unified School District when an opportunity to work in Winters opened up and called to him. In his new role at WMS Garcia is working to help students increase their academic, social and emotional achievements by working with staff to find ways to connect with them. “I know some of the families who are coming through and I’m supporting kids of friends that I went to high school with,” said Garcia. “For me, it’s a huge responsibility that I’m doing the best I can to support our kids academically and socially. I feel they are counting on me to take care of their kids. They’re trusting me with the most important thing in their lives.” He said another one of his goals is to enhance the experience for middle school students, and collaboration and communicating with administration, staff and families are key actions to making the next generation successful. Garcia makes a point to be visible on campus from the time students arrive to the time they leave for the day. He wants to make sure they see him and know that he’s here to provide support. He’s encouraging all WMS staff and parents to be as visible as possible too. Garcia believes parent engagement is important and began a series of parent engagement workshops this year to empower families with tips and strategies to better communication at home with their children. The inspiration behind his drive to work and interact with youth is in credit to the many coaches who were there for him. He said he really admires the adults who spent time coaching him in the many sports he participated in as a child. Garcia feels organized sports and opportunities are super important and help youth in the community to be connected to something bigger. “I’ve really admired all of the coaches that I had. I realize they took time out of their day to support kids in their community. That’s what drives me to work with youth,” said Garcia. “I want them to feel that connection to something that will help them to develop good habits and attitudes that translate into school and eventually into being college and career ready.” Garcia hopes WMS students, and all students, seek out a variety of programs offered in school and the community to help them connect with others. He said these connections and opportunities will help Winters students to develop positive habits and behaviors that translate to academic achievement in the classroom and success in their future. “My recommendation to students is to consider sports–playing multiple sports, taking music, art, ceramic classes. And continue to work on developing positive friendships,” said Garcia. He hopes that Winters families and community members will see WMS has a caring and collaborative community of staff and administrators who care about each student and are working hard to support them and increase their academic, social and emotional achievements.]]>
Winters once boasted a prosperous Japanese community, which tragically burned on Aug. 1, 1942 when the United States was celebrating victory over Japan. While the cause of the fire has never been determined, Winters saw discrimination toward Japanese Americans following the war.