Moses was recognized by Senator Laird in Sacramento this month

PASO ROBLES — Georgia Brown Elementary School Principal Celia Moses was recently recognized by Senator John Laird in Sacramento on March 20 as the “California Senate District 17 Woman Making Herstory,” also known as “Woman of the Year.”

Laird, who visited Georgia Brown last year, was impressed with Moses’ dedication to the Georgia Brown dual immersion program and its students. When Laird visited the campus, he was inspired by Moses’ ability to recall every student, staff, and volunteer’s name that they encountered.

2023 Celia Moses Contributed 3
Georgia Brown Elementary School Principal Celia Moses and District 17 State Senator John Laird pose for a photo outside the State Capitol in Sacramento. Contributed Photo

“It was humbling to be recognized and distinguished among all the amazing women who have made extraordinary contributions to their communities,” Moses said. “I am very proud to represent the district, the Georgia Brown families, and the Paso Robles community.”

The California Legislative Women’s Caucus (LWC) Floor Ceremony for Women’s History Month was held in March when they invited members to honor a “California Woman Making Herstory” from their district. Women’s History Month was established by Congress in the 1980s. 

In March, the LWC chair and vice chair took up resolutions in each house proclaiming March as Women’s History Month, followed by a floor ceremony titled “California Women Making Herstory.” At the floor ceremony, each member of the Legislature had the opportunity to honor a woman in their district.

Moses, who was very humble when it came to earning the honor, said, “I was amongst all these amazing women, and it’s a life changing thing … I’m just a principal [but] I’m trying to embrace it.”

Born in El Salvador, Moses immigrated to the U.S. with her four siblings at the age of 14. Learning English as a second language, Moses knows first-hand what her students are experiencing going through the dual-immersion program.

“I understand how they feel and the benefits of improving and becoming strong in your primary language because if you have a strong primary language your second language will come that much easier,” said Moses of the process her students take.

In 1998, Moses and her new husband moved to Paso Robles to start a family. She learned of Georgia Brown when her children began attending the school. In 2004, she started working as a substitute teacher and from there the ball started rolling.

Moses has worked throughout the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District, specializing in bilingual programs. Though she was comfortable with the around 150 students she worked with, a colleague of hers inspired her to apply for an assistant principal position in the district by saying she could make a difference in 700 students every day. Moses ended up taking a position as assistant principal at Georgia Brown and a year later became principal.

“I had a calling for the school,” said Moses who became principal four years ago. “There is something unique about this environment. It’s a magical place where we don’t see a lot of skin color differences and even accents.”

Georgia Brown is home to the district’s high demand dual immersion program. The campus has become a magnet school, with two-thirds of its students not living in nearby neighborhoods.

“It’s the most populated elementary school because our community values bilingualism and diversity,” adds Moses. 

Currently, the run-down state of the campus has ignited debate about where to move the dual immersion program — either move to the available 17th Street campus or do an intensive renovation to its current 36th Street campus.

“The program has been very successful because of the people, and not the place. I think that we have overgrown this campus,” says Moses of the possible change. “We would be able to serve a larger community if we were able to move to the 17th [Street] campus. Our families are very dedicated to the program, the ones that live here in this neighborhood and they said they would follow Georgia Brown wherever the school goes.”

Moses credits her staff — who feel more like family — for her success and the success of Georgia Brown. As someone once told her, she came to the school for the language but stayed for the people.

Of being recognized as Woman of the Year, Moses says, “I am definitely honored. It is not my success because it’s the success of my entire community for me to receive this award and type of distinction.”