Patsy Roybal, Unsung Heroine 2015

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Patsy Roybal has dedicated her life to education. As the second youngest child of ten from Peñasco, New Mexico, Patsy’s single mother encouraged speaking Spanish at home, straight A’s and the power of education – her mother was her greatest influence. Her mother knew that living without electricity or running water was not the way life was going to be for her children. By watching her mother, Patsy learned what it meant to be resilient, a survivor and the importance of family. Their family moved to Colorado when she was 13-years old. While her mother was promoted from hotel maid to head cook of the Holiday Inn in Vail, Patsy graduated as Battle Mountain High School’s valedictorian with a full-ride scholarship to CU Boulder.

Patsy received her teaching degree and began to dedicate herself toward social justice. She began her work as a Family Resource School Coordinator, responsible to empower families with information and form partnerships. While holding that position for 11 years, Patsy saw the information gap and a greater need for parent engagement within schools. She realized early on the issues within the community and the need to empower families to advocate for themselves and help them support other families of color. Patsy saw the disconnect between school culture and familial culture and recognized that active parent engagement in each child’s education was necessary to find success for every child.

In her current position as the Director of Training and Leadership Development of the Office of Family and Community Engagement for DPS, Patsy has developed training programs and resources that help families gain skills to empower students to have high aspirations, prepare their kids for college and career, and to discipline their children in positive ways that build their self-esteem and develop a positive identity. To date, she has trained over one hundred DPS staff members to train parents across the district, and is working to establish a grassroots parent-to-parent initiative to empower parents to carry information to other families. She has developed a parent manual to spark conversations about the vital role they play in preparing their children for college and career. Patsy has also created a Parent Leadership Curriculum that allows parents to discover their own values and teaches them how to navigate the school system, resolve personal issues, interpret school data, and to feel comfortable speaking publically.

In Patsy’s own words, it has been her honor to “help families regain hope and reclaim their dignity by gaining knowledge and recognizing their natural talents and strengths.” She has assisted families to realize their knowledge within – not necessarily from formal education, but from experiences. Her mission was to break the myth that Latino families don’t value education – she wanted to prove the naysayers wrong and show them that Latinos deeply care about education, and want our kids to succeed. “We have a moral responsibility to provide parents with strategies and tools to help themselves and their children to succeed,” is the quote that guides Patsy in her work as an educator. Her devotion to our community is what makes her a heroine of many types; a mother, a wife and a committed leader in the Latino community.