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UCLA Community School Principal Receives IEL Educator Leadership Award

By John McDonald

Leyda Garcia, principal of the UCLA Community School in Los Angeles, has been named the recipient of the 2022 Educator Leadership Award by the Institute for Educational Leadership.  The Award was presented to Garcia, Wednesday, May 31 at the National Community Schools & Family Engagement Conference in Los Angeles.

Garcia has led the UCLA Community School since 2012.  She recently described the groundbreaking school in Koreatown to the publication EdSource as, “a cozy, welcoming environment, like a small town,” adding, “We’ve known some students since kindergarten, we have a history with their family and siblings. When they when hit a bump in the road, we respond differently.”

Garcia has been an educator for 2 decades. An immigrant from Guatemala, Garcia attended Stanford where she earned a B.A. in Psychology and an M.A. in Education. She graduated from UCLA’s Principal Leadership Institute program in 2007, and recently earned her doctorate from LMU  in Social Justice Leadership.  Garcia began her career as a teacher in northern California before returning to Los Angeles where she served as a teacher and principal in the Los Angeles and Montebello Unified School Districts before taking the reins of the Community School. 

Dr. Garcia is an extraordinary instructional leader,” said Karen Hunter Quartz, the Director of the UCLA Center for Community Schooling.  “She is very collaborative and driven by a deep belief in the power of community schooling to change lives and advance equity.”

The IEL is a national organization whose mission is to partner with under-resourced communities to equip leaders to better prepare children, youth, adults, and families for postsecondary education and training, rewarding careers, and civic and community engagement. IEL is the host of the 2022 National Community Schools and Family Engagement Conference. More than 3,000 participants are expected to participate in the conference, engaging in learning and networking opportunities to increase their knowledge of Community Schools and Family Engagement and increase their skills.  

The UCLA Center for Community Schooling, a partner in California’s new $3 billion effort to expand community schools, has been a key participant in the conference, including study visits to the UCLA Community School in Koreatown and the Mann UCLA Community School in Los Angeles.