SACRAMENTO — As part of Women’s History Month, Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath honors Jacqueline “Kiki” Bispo as the 2021 Woman of the Year for Assembly District 76. In the month of March, State Legislators select a woman in their district whose contributions to her community deserve to be celebrated to be given this annual honor.
Bispo is a lifelong educator currently serving as the Family and Community Engagement Lead for Vista Unified School District. The Family and Community Engagement Network (F.A.C.E), a program concept that Bispo created, is an internationally recognized approach to student success that focuses on the role of the family, home life, and learning conditions in determining classroom outcomes for struggling students — a departure from the historically unsuccessful focus on academic performance alone.
“We know that kids who have both parents engaged in their kid’s learning and in touch with their teachers do better in school and have more opportunities later in life,” said Assemblymember Boerner Horvath. “We also know that for many working families from underserved communities, providing a struggling kid with the necessary at-home support can be near impossible. Kiki’s innovative approach brings parents into the conversation, bridging that gap and resulting in better outcomes for struggling kids. Her work empowers families and makes Vista a more equitable place for kids to learn and grow. She is truly a hero for so many parents and she deserve to be celebrated.”
Since its implementation, the FACE Network has continued to boost the number of “family engagement events” at Vista schools, in some cases doubling the previous year’s numbers. The strengthening of family contact has allowed schools to make significant inroads in understanding and addressing issues like the chronic absenteeism and behavioral patterns that consistently hold students back from reaching their true potential. When the pandemic hit and schools switched to remote learning, the connections forged through Kiki’s program made all the difference in keeping students engaged while at home.
“Ever since I was a kid myself, I’ve known I wanted to grow up to become an educator” said Bispo. “After years teaching in the classroom and noticing trends in what causes students to struggle, I knew I was called to take action to empower disenfranchised families. It’s been a privilege to take the lead on the FACE Network, and I cherish every day that I get to serve parents and students with love and compassion. I’m honored to accept this recognition from Assemblymember Boerner Horvath.”
The Woman of the Year program has a proud 30-year history in the Legislature, dating back its creation in 1987 by Assemblywoman Bev Hansen (R) and Assemblywoman Sally Tanner (D). While honorees would typically visit the State Capitol to be recognized, the Legislature hosted a virtual celebration this year. Bispo’s accomplishments were also celebrated during the 76th Assembly District’ Women of Impact virtual event on March 26.