2023 Confidential Employee of the Year Priscila Caballero.
Caballero’s support promotes student success
October 2, 2023
ACSA Administrators of the Year graphic.
Name: Priscila Caballero Award: Confidential Employee of the Year Title: Senior Executive Assistant, County Superintendent of Schools, Santa Clara COE ACSA highlights: Member since 2013; planning committee, 2023 CEL Institute.
To serve, inspire and promote success — that is Santa Clara County Office of Education’s mission, and it’s a mission that guides Priscila Caballero in her daily work. She puts students first while supporting Superintendent Mary Ann Dewan, all while demonstrating thoughtfulness and integrity.
Along with her regular daily duties as senior executive assistant, Caballero helps to guide and develop other administrative assistants in the front office. She manages the implementation of office initiatives, ensuring that the county office is on track with deadlines and deliverables. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Caballero volunteered for vaccination clinics, helped to pack COVID test kits for early learning centers and distributed meals to students.
“Priscila provides all necessary tools and materials needed at various superintendent meetings,” said Dewan. “She expertly manages my calendar, a task that is challenging and time-consuming … [and] she is eager to volunteer in various aspects of the office that will benefit the community.”
What’s your favorite book or quote on leadership? I have a couple: “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff.” It’s (from) the first book I read when I started in education, and it’s always stuck with me since.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? Go to school and get an education. Every day is an opportunity to be great.
What’s your best strategy for work-life balance? I’m not sure that I have any advice to give here, but what I remind myself constantly is something my supervisor told me, “Go home, the work will always be there.” So, when it’s after hours and I’m telling myself, “Let me just do one more thing,” which ends up spiraling into a million other things, I really have to check myself, because there will always be just one more thing. And she is right, the work will still be there tomorrow.
What are some life hacks that you would recommend for a new administrator? Take care of your support staff, and they will take care of you.
What would people be surprised to learn about you? I’m not sure this is a surprise, especially if you’re at my desk, but I have a slight obsession with Hello Kitty. I would like to thank my mother, who outfitted me with a Hello Kitty backpack in kindergarten. And I’m a gym rat.
What made you want to become a school administrator? It happened by chance. I started off as a clerical sub and what was a part-time gig ended up being a career. What changed my life was my supervisor at that time — she took an interest in me. I was young (19 years old) and had zero interest in pursuing a college degree. Once I started taking courses (so she would stop nagging me), I couldn’t stop. Every single administrator I worked for after she retired kept pushing and encouraging me to keep going and I did. It truly takes a village. While working and going to school, I couldn’t help but want to stay in education.
What are you most proud of accomplishing? I am most proud of being the first in my family to attend/graduate from college.
How has ACSA supported you in your career/current position? By attending ACSA’s academies, conferences and being active in my region, I have made so many connections that should I ever need assistance, support or a brain to pick, I can always count on my fellow ACSA colleagues.
How are you prioritizing mental health for yourself, your staff and/or your students? I take time to practice self-care. I’m physically active, I eat healthy and I love to sleep. I have also learned to give myself grace (this is a biggie). And having regular check-ins with a mental health professional helps!
Priscilla Caballero, far right, was on the planning committee for the 2023 Classified Educational Leaders Institute.