Updating a résumé wasn’t something Linda Cordero thought she would do as a retired educator, one who spent an entire 32-year career in Santa Maria’s elementary school district.
A few tweaks were necessary, however, when Cordero had a conversation with Orcutt Union School District Superintendent Bob Bush, and accepted a job offer at the end of it.
Administrative support was the decided on title for Cordero, who in November began working at Olga Reed Elementary in Los Alamos twice a week in addition to serving as a school board member in the Santa Maria-Bonita School District.
“I just couldn’t quite give it all up,” Cordero told Noozhawk on a recent afternoon in her Santa Maria home. “I really am enjoying being around kids again. It’s just been wonderful.”
How Cordero fell into the new gig resembles the chance circumstances that led the Washington native to Santa Maria — and then teaching — in the first place.
Cordero moved to Santa Maria with a college friend in 1972 after graduating from the University of Washington with a degree in history and sociology.
“It was the only thing I did on a whim,” she said, laughing. “I’m pretty boring.”
Jobless and clueless about the area, Cordero began working at a coffee shop on Broadway — now Taqueria Salsa Brava restaurant — while occasionally substitute teaching at high schools.
Between shifts at the coffee shop, where Cordero later met her husband of 40 years, Mike Cordero, she volunteered in the first-grade classroom of a friend’s child for a reason she can’t quite recall.
“I just remember realizing that working with young children was sometimes frustrating,” she said, but when the lightbulb of comprehension came on, “it was so rewarding.”
Cordero earned her teaching credential from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and got her first full-time job teaching kindergarten at Adam Elementary. She also served stints at Fairlawn, Miller and Ontiveros elementary schools as a teacher, assistant principal and principal before retiring in 2007.
Not more than four years went by — during which she coached local principals — before Cordero again happened upon an opportunity to stay engaged in education.
She was appointed to the Santa Maria-Bonita school board in July 2010, serving the remaining two years of trustee Ken Milo’s term after his sudden death, and she was re-elected in 2012.
“For me, it was like completing the circle,” Cordero said of winning a school board seat, one she will keep until 2016 when she has a reelection decision to make.
Cordero has served on a number of community boards in semi-retirement, also spending time with her three grown sons, two grandchildren and husband, Mike, a retired Santa Maria police lieutenant and former city councilman.
She also briefly (and successfully) battled cancer before taking the job in Los Alamos, a “secret paradise” just a 20-minute drive away.
“Students, families, and staff have enjoyed working with Linda,” said Joe Dana, Orcutt’s director of charter programs who doubles as Olga Reed’s principal. “She is an experienced educator, a people person and a terrific colleague. Olga Reed is blessed to have her.”
Cordero will work at Olga Reed at least through June, and said she will keep her hand in education as long as she is physically, and mentally, able.
“Working defines you,” she said. “The more engaged you are, the more alive you feel.”