We had the good fortune of connecting with Candace Cayer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Candace, what do you attribute your success to?
It is hard to choose one important factor behind my success. I think it encompasses four elements: Professional Mentors, preparation of learned skills and experiences, dedication and commitment to the profession, and family support.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Currently, I am the Assistant Principal for Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment and Athletics at La Puente High School in the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District. In addition, I also serve as the Endowment Committee Chair and National Faculty Member for Leadership Training Courses for the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. I believe what separates my experiences from others is my work with curriculum development and athletics. Most of the time, these focus areas do not usually go hand in hand. What makes me excited and proud is when I observe students overcome obstacles. Students that achieve their dreams of full-ride college scholarships from curriculum accolades, or as a result of their athletic talents and commitment, makes our work as educators very fulfilling. I have been fortunate to see this happen for over 80 students in my tenure many who have become educators, doctors and successful business professionals. Over the course of my career, I have had superior mentors. Mr. Paul Breit was my Principal at Ganesha High School. He gave me every curricular experience possible and encouraged me to get involved outside of the classroom. His guidance and high expectations started my foundation for professional growth experiences. As I transitioned to Pomona High School, I became an Athletic Director and Assistant Principal under the direction of Ms. Marilyn Ghirelli. She mentored me in the world of Administration, giving me opportunities to learn all the aspects of being an administrator: attendance, discipline, curriculum, interventions, special education, etc. Also, she was the driving force behind my application for the California Department of Education Framework Committee in Physical Education which led to my participation in this endeavor. My growth continued at Diamond Ranch High School, under the direction of Principal Monica Principe. She emphasized the qualities needed to be a good Assistant Principal. Ms. Principe also supported my involvement with the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) and California Athletic Director’s Association (CSADA). Fellow colleagues Tina Tamura, Athletic Director at Santee Education Complex, and George Gilbert, Assistant Executive Director Interscholastic League of Honolulu, Hawaii, encouraged my ongoing participation with the CSADA and NIAAA which has led me to the leadership role I possess today with NIAAA as the Endowment Committee Chair and member of the National Faculty for Athletic Administration courses. Transitioning to the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District, I received unwavering support from former Superintendent Cynthia Parulan-Colfer. She allowed me to continue to work in athletics, understanding my passion and the opportunities for students. My career path seemed to transcend itself as a result of the numerous people who supported me. In addition to the professional support I’ve received, the commitment of my family has helped me when tasks seemed impossible. My husband Don has been a great support for me. As a Head Football Coach and Athletic Director at Ganesha High School, he knows the time commitment that it takes to do an exceptional job. He is extremely supportive of my endeavors and understands the time commitment of my position. Together, we have dedicated our lives to young people and he truly understands that our work directly supports student success. My sister Sandee Teruya has been a tremendous support to me along with my parents. I was very fortunate to have been raised by loving parents and an older sister who supported every voyage I chose to embark upon. My sister continues to financially contribute to every fundraiser or event that I participate in. Over the course of time, I’ve learned to become resilient and optimistic when dealing with challenges. One thing I’ve learned is to be resourceful. Sometimes the answer lies in a different way to achieve a goal. I often call it “going around the side door, instead of through the front door.” It may take creativity and more time but, there is usually a way. Also, to seek the support of your professional network who may be able to provide alternative ideas. What I learned along the way is to stay the course. Don’t give up. The focus needs to stay on what is best for the students and their families. Also, it’s to give back to your profession and mentor younger educators so they can keep the work of your mentors going. Success is evident in the product of your students. If I could share something about my story it would be to encourage our future generation to seek out higher education. The commitment to their education can change not just their lives, but that of their families. Also, your education can never be taken away from you. As for the education profession, our work is really not work. The students and families make every day special. Going to school is a joy when you know you are changing lives for the better, so I encourage our youth to think about a future profession in education.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If I were entertaining a friend in Los Angeles, I would take them to a variety of great restaurants and venues. Restaurants would include: Fogo de Chao – Brazilian Churrascaria (Beverly Hills), Pinks Hot Dogs (LA), Mariscos Jaliscos (Pomona), Alma Delia’s (La Puente), Oomasa – Japanese (Downtown LA- Japanese-town), Book Sae Tong Korean BBQ (Koreatown), Palermos Italian (Los Feliz), Patina (Downtown LA), Michaelango’s (Silverlake), LaMill Coffee Shop (Silverlake), Din Tai Fung – Chinese Dim Sum (Glendale), Original Tommy’s (LA), The Oinkster (Eagle Rock), Burrito King (LA), King Taco (East LA),Mi Piace – Italian (Pasadena), Il Fornaio – Italian (Pasadena), Wang Cho Korean BBQ (Chino) and the Langham Hotel in Pasadena for Chocolate Tea (Sundays). In terms of sightseeing, I would take them to the Griffith Park Observatory, Mann’s Chinese Theatre, Universal Studios, Japanese American Museum, LA County Museum, La Brea Tar Pits, California Science Center, MOCA, UCLA, USC, Rodeo Drive, 3rd Street Promenade, Hollywood Bowl, Dodger Stadium, LA Coliseum, Americana at the Glendale Galleria, Music Center, ArcLight Cinema Theatre, Santa Monica Pier.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Cynthia Parulan-Colfer, Retired Superintendent Hacienda-La Puente Paul Breit, Retired Principal Ganesha High School Marilyn Ghirelli, Retired Principal & District Administrator Pomona Unified School District Monica Principe, Director of Secondary Education, Pomona Unified School District Tina Tamura, Athletic Director, Santee Education Complex George Gilbert, Assistant Executive Director, Interscholastic League of Honolulu, Hawaii Sandee Teruya, Sister, Supporter, Mentor Donald Cayer, Husband, Athletic Director & Head Football Coach, Ganesha High School
Linkedin: Candace Cayer
Facebook: Cande Cayer
All images are my own except the Gym Photo La Puente Warriors – credit to Steven Zavala, LPHS Alumni