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Victorville English teacher runs for Hesperia school board

(This story originally appeared in the Hesperia Star Tuesday, October 10, 2006)

Lee Rogers came to education because of her daughter.

Thirty-eight years ago, the mother of a 6-year-old with dyslexia in an era when dyslexia was little understood and was often diagnosed by teachers as being “slow” or a “bad reader,” Rogers learned everything she could about the learning disability and found herself in demand by High Desert schools.

“I was the only person up here who knew anything about dyslexia,” she said last week. Soon, she found herself working at Apple Valley High School, despite her lack of degree. “Life kind of got in the way and I never got to go back to college and get my degree.”

But after her husband retired, and the pair was traveling in Texas in their recreational vehicle, Rogers realized that she didn’t want to retire, she wanted to teach. They got back on the road, headed back to Hesperia. She went back to school and got her degrees.

Today teaches at Maverick High School in Victorville, where she teaches English and drama to at-risk students, having been inspired by a stint working as the librarian at Mojave High School in Hesperia.

“These were the kids I needed to spend the rest of my life with,” she said of the square pegs in the alternative education classrooms. “This was exactly where I needed to be.”

And today, Rogers has a new mission: a seat on the Hesperia Unified School District school board.

“This has been my home since 1943,” she said. “Our kids have gone through school here, our grand-babies have gone through school here, and we’re going to have great-grand-babies go to school here. And we’re not ready.”

Specifically, Rogers criticizes the district’s lack of gang intervention programs, insufficient adult education options, a dearth of community involvement and, most of all, a too-slow construction schedule.

“If we opened three schools today, we’d still be three schools behind.”

Prior to her campground epiphany, Rogers worked for a construction company, and says her accounting and managerial background will be invaluable on the school board.

“I’ve been a classified employee in the school system, I’ve been a certified employee,” she said, referring to the non-teaching and teaching staff divisions in the HUSD. “It’s time for me to make sure that when they plant me in the ground some day … that we will still have a town that will be accountable.”

Rogers is one of three candidates backed, politically and financially, by the Hesperia Teachers Association, and she makes no bones about her sympathies for teachers contending with crowded classrooms.

“We have so many students in our classroom now, I’m not sure how long the teachers can hang in there.”

Digging into the books and figuring out how to improve classroom numbers is one of her highest priorities.

“Maybe we haven’t been frugal enough. Maybe there hasn’t been fiscal accountability,” she said. “Maybe I think I have more of the [appropriate] background than some of the candidates I want to unseat.”

Incumbent school board members Nellie Gogley and Eric Swanson are both up for reelection. Long-time board member Jack Hamilton is not seeking reelection.

For Rogers, running for school board is about community service on the most local level.

“My political aspirations are Hesperia” and no further. “It’s time for me to pay my dues.”

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.

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