Role Models in Education
“Education is the most powerful weapon, which you can use to change the world,”
These women in education represent just a few of the many outstanding females in the Conejo Valley who are making a positive impact in our community and helping to shape the world into a better place.
Newbury Park High School Teacher of the Year, Exemplary IB Educator Award recipient
Janet Conner, English 12 IB, 12 CP, IB Theory of Knowledge Teacher, IB Extended Essay Coordinator
Janet Conner is a high school teacher, with a Masters in English from UC Irvine. The California Association of International Baccalaureate World Schools honored her with the IB Educator Award.
Words to Live By: Ah, but a man’s (woman’s) reach must exceed his (her) grasp or what’s a heaven for?
Mentor: As an English teacher in my first school, 39 years ago, Bob Weenk helped me understand the challenges and the rewards, the sacrifice and the thrill of working with young people who are on the edge of their adult lives.
Most Important Lesson: The human spirit is amazing and resilient; my students are MY teachers while I am theirs.
Most Rewarding Accomplishment: To still be teaching with enthusiasm after 39 years; to be awarded Teacher of the Year by my students at Buena High School, spring 2001; to be asked to speak at numerous graduations; to LOVE my job after all these years.
Advice for Women: Value education; value your amazing ability to learn and love.
Future Goals: To teach at the college level once I retire from high school teaching. To laugh, to hike, to sing and to read.
NAWBO Education Advocate of the Year
Dianne Badoud McKay, Ventura County Community College District Board Member & Chief Operating Officer, Mustang Marketing
As COO of Mustang Marketing, the largest full-service marketing agency in Ventura County, Dianne is “happy to go to work each day.”
Words to Live By: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
Mentor: My dad. Working alongside him gave me the opportunities to not only learn from his tremendous business expertise but also to have the confidence to negotiate for myself, and our company, with confidence. He taught me how to build the lasting partnerships and friendships that are critical to success.
Most Rewarding Accomplishment: Raising my four children, with the love, help and support of my husband, Duncan. They are the fire in my soul, and like every mom, I’m tremendously proud of each of them and who they have grown to be.
Advice: Don’t create your own glass ceiling. Negotiate for yourself — men do it all the time.
Future Goals: For more than 20 years I have been committed to doing everything in my power to improve education. My goal for the future is to improve access to and readiness for higher education and ensure the system works well for our students once they get there. They win, our community wins.
Lori Peters Executive Director and Educator at One Spark Academy
One Spark Academy is a nonprofit learning center for homeschool and independent study students in middle school and above.
Words to Live By: “Promise less and deliver more.” “Walk the walk.” “People over policy.” “Luck is when opportunity meets preparation” is something I often tell my students.
Mentor: My parents! My father, as an educator, in particular had an exemplary moral compass when it came to dealing with other people and navigating the nonsense of many large systems. He reminded me to put relationships first, that career meant nothing if it was achieved on the backs of others. They encouraged me to stand up for others and what I believe is right, even if it wasn’t the easy road.
Most Important Lesson: I held my head high, even when others doubted me and opted to put more energy into a positive path than the negative force of trying to defend myself or my actions. The truth finds a way.
Most Rewarding Accomplishment: One Spark Academy!!
Advice for Women: Be the kind of person who builds others up, especially other women; it is still more difficult for girls and women than it is for men to strike out on their own! The pool of opportunity is big and we should seek to support one another in our endeavors rather than compete. Surround yourself with people who lift you up and contribute to a positive environment. Life is too short to tolerate bullies or systems that make it hard for people who choose to live their best lives.
Future Goals: To continue to find ways to make One Spark Academy sustainable, enriching and nurturing for both students and teachers. I love the life balance I have now with myself, my husband and my family, which is so much more rewarding and enjoyable than any other “job” I’ve ever had.
NatureBridge Student of the Year
Selma Ruiz, Student
NatureBridge helped propel my interest in the natural world and changed the way I see the world. Now I make an effort to fully experience every moment I have outside.
Words to Live By: “When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will truly know peace.” -Jimi Hendrix The very first time I read this quote I instantly memorized it and the truth of it hit me. I remember thinking about it the entire rest of that day.
Mentor: My mother has taught me endless knowledge about life and school. Since 4th grade, she has homeschooled me. I am inspired by her determination and independence. She is a single mother and she has taught me to always be independent with my own thoughts and ideas. Without her I would never be the thoughtful thinker I am today.
Most Important Lesson: It’s hard to put yourself out there, but if you never try, you will most definitely never succeed.
Most Rewarding Accomplishment: Winning the NatureBridge award! Many tears were shed when I won because I never thought myself capable of writing a winning paper. I gained so much confidence and I am still so proud of myself for getting out there and trying something I’ve never done before.
Advice: No matter what the trends are or what attitude becomes popular, never dumb yourself down for temporary popularity. It’s more rewarding to be proud of yourself than what social status you’re in.
Future Goals: I’ve been inspired to do something involving science and nature; I’ve discovered being a Park Ranger would be amazing. Traveling has become very important to me and NatureBridge gave me the opportunity to see a little bit of the world. I even plan on moving to Europe to attend college. I hope to get a degree in literature so I can write about the natural world around me to bring awareness to its current state. I just hope whatever I end up doing involves my passion and determination.