- October 2, 2023
How one KCSOS staffer works to preserve her father’s legacy in providing equitable access to Hispanic communities in Kern County
As the daughter of Raul Camacho Sr., publisher of the first Spanish-language newspaper in Kern County, Lilly Rosenberger saw first-hand the sacrifices her father made to provide local news to the Spanish-speaking populations of rural Kern County. Rosenberger, a Management Analyst who has been with KCSOS since 2016, said it wasn’t until she got her teaching credential that she realized how significant his presence was to these communities. Even now, two years after his death, she still uncovers new ways to be proud of her father’s legacy.
Camacho was born in Mexico and immigrated to the United States in 1965, looking for better opportunities for his growing family. After years of working his way up the ladder constructing fiberglass products, he decided to become a business owner, buying his first business, a small neighborhood market in Lynwood, Calif., to save enough money to one day achieve his lifelong dream of becoming a newspaper publisher. It would be about six more years before he would be ready to move his family to Bakersfield and realize his dream of being a newspaperman. By August of 1983, Camacho published the first 8,000 copies of El Popular.
“I think about all of the sacrifices he made to start his dream,” said Rosenberger. “I look back on it knowing what I know now and think about how brave he was to risk everything to do something meaningful for the Spanish-speaking communities of Kern County. I don’t know if I could ever be that brave.”
Through countless sacrifices, including selling the family home and working 18-hour days to keep the paper afloat, Camacho overcame it all and continued living his dreams over the next 40 years until he died in 2021. Rosenberger remembers how her dad would go to work, chase stories, and publish the newspaper even as he dealt with health issues.
“He would always say ‘No mas échale ganas’ to us,” recalls Rosenberger. “This saying, which would translate to ‘just give it all you got,’ was his favorite. Even if he were in pain, he would still go to the office and do his best to contribute because he loved Bakersfield and wanted to give back to the Hispanic community.”
Discovering her own tenacity
As Rosenberger reflects on her dad’s impact, she can’t help but be proud of his tenacity. That’s where she feels she learned how to challenge the status quo and has used it in each role she’s held in education. The skills Camacho imparted to Rosenberger have helped improve circumstances for English learners and students living in poverty.
One highlight that Rosenberger is particularly proud of is leading the development of a gifted program within the Lamont School District that included equitable identification practices so that English learners would have a fair opportunity to qualify for services.
According to Rosenberger, it was a widely held belief that English learners were not gifted or talented at the time. However, using the tenacity Camacho had bestowed on her, she continued building equitable programs as she moved up the ranks.
Upon her employment at KCSOS, Rosenberger led a county-wide initiative to raise the academic rigor for English learners by supporting districts in implementing Academic Conversations, a practice emphasizing critical thinking and collaborative communication skills using academic language, or the “language of school.”
This practice supports English learners in moving beyond the socially fluent speakers many students can become without formal instruction. Now, as a Management Analyst, Rosenberger can facilitate conversations directly with district leaders on leveraging their LCAP and continuous-improvement projects to prioritize the needs of underserved student groups, including English learners and low-income students.
“Although I miss working in a school setting, I know that what I’m doing now as a Management Analyst is where I’m needed to continue my dad’s legacy,” said Rosenberger.
Appreciating his impact
After her father’s passing in 2021, Rosenberger heard from many people who had their lives touched by Camacho. One of those people worked with her at KCSOS. Migrant Education Coordinator Claudia Maldonado told Rosenberger how Camacho had supported her while she tried to obtain her bachelor’s degree.
“I used to work for Mr. Camacho from 1999 to 2004. I wanted to finish school, so I remember giving my resignation notice,” said Maldonado. “Instead of accepting it, Camacho said he would work around my schedule so I could complete school and still make some money at the same time. I am so grateful to him and have even kept one of my paychecks to remember his kindness from that time.”
This was a significant moment for Maldonado because, at the time, she was taking care of two babies and going to school simultaneously.
“There were times when Mr. Camacho would give me food to take home for my kids as he noticed the struggles I faced,” recalled Maldonado. “This was one of many ways he showed his kindness and support. Thanks to Mr. Camacho’s help and kindness, I reached my dream of graduating from college.”
To Rosenberger, this story was one of many examples of his compassion.
“I think this was his way of lending someone in need a hand,” said Rosenberger. “Just like many people helped him to overcome the many barriers he experienced in life to achieve his dreams, he wanted to do what he could to support his community.”