by Felita Kealing* (Guest Messenger Writer)
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” – Philippians 2:4
More photos at https://bit.ly/31rSffY
New Year’s Day 2022, I was in the 133rd Tournament of Roses Parade. I was a part of the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) Unit composed of the District’s All Star Band and Auxiliary, as well as a Metropolitan Transit Company 1924 Model TT Jitney Bus full of PUSD honorees. I was a passenger on the bus, representing the Pasadena Educational Foundation (PEF) as its Board of Directors President.
Prior to parade day, I posted a message on my personal Social Media page announcing that I would be a participant in the parade. Many friends who attended the parade in person or watched it on television looked for me on the bus, but to their disappointment, they didn’t see me. I heard more than once, “You were on the wrong side of the bus.” I tend to differ with their opinions.
There were a total of nine passengers in the vehicle. Our route started northbound on Orange Grove Boulevard, then turned right to travel eastbound on Colorado Boulevard. I started out on the right side of the bus, also known as the “camera side.” In my personal vanity I could have stayed on the camera side to ensure my image was shown on screens internationally. However, I made a different choice. I knew where my family was seated; they were in grandstand seats visible from the left side of the bus. I asked another passenger to change sides so that I would be able to see and wave to the people who mattered most in my life, my husband Michael and our sons Miles and Preston.
This experience was phenomenal. It connected so many pieces of my life together: my attending PUSD schools, my volunteerism as a float decorator in high school, my viewing perspectives of the parade as a spectator over many years, my commitment to the community, especially through education advocacy, and my faith-based connection through ABC.
Within this message, I want to give special recognition to Dr. Bob Miller, 2022 Tournament or Roses President for his insight in introducing the theme of “Dream, Believe, Achieve” with focus on education for this year’s Rose Parade. As part of my personal advocacy, I know there is a significant impact when we focus on public education, investing time and resources where we are making a difference in the lives of students and the community. This is the type of investment that changes communities and people; it is a knowledge builder, it improves livelihoods, and shapes futures. I am happy to be a part of this “building.” There are many others that agree. Along the parade route there was a buzz within the Pasadena public school community. It was positive and infectious, people held signs in support of schools, cheered as we passed, wore their school apparel, and held photos of some of their favorite PUSD people (including me).
On January 2nd I watched the Rose Parade from a new perspective. When the Jitney Bus appeared before the camera, just the right people were in place for the world to see. On the physical “right” side of the bus, I see something different. These were the educational first responders; people who in a pandemic year gave their best and then more. This list includes Karen Anderson, PUSD Arts Coordinator (who coordinated this opportunity for the PUSD students and the Honorees), Julie Silk, PUSD Teacher of the Year, Maricela Borough, PUSD Classified Staff Member of the Year, Dr. Lawton Gray, PUSD Principal of the Year (John Muir High School), and Ana Maria “Ria” Apodaca, PUSD Director of Health Programs. I can see their smiles, their waves, and their elation.
Each of my colleagues were just where they needed to be, in the place they earned as top performers in their fields as educators. This doesn’t discount the work or the positions of the passengers on the other side of the bus; Dr. Elizabeth Blanco, PUSD Chief Academic Officer; Dr. Leslie Barnes, PUSD Chief Finance & Operations Officer; Dr. Elizabeth Pomeroy, PUSD Board of Education President; or myself Felita Kealing, Pasadena Educational Foundation, Board of Directors President. It simply solidifies why this experience and the placement was important for them.
We sat where we needed to be in the interests of others.
*Felita Kealing has been attending ABC since 1998 and is currently our Church Moderator. Her husband Michael is a member of the church’s Board of Deacons. They have raised two great sons, both of whom have been active in the ABC Youth Group: Miles, who is a junior at Tulane University, and Preston, who is currently attending Pasadena City College.