(From the editor: this story was updated from its original version to include comments from Dr. Judy White, Superintendent of Schools, Riverside County Office of Education.)

On Monday, July 6, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the appointment of inland area resident Dr. Cynthia Glover Woods of Eastvale to the State Board of Education (BOE).

Highly respected and recognized for her educational acumen, Glover Woods has served as Chief Academic Officer with the Riverside County Office of Education (RCOE) since 2016 and was a senior leadership associate with RCOE from 2013 to 2016.

Dr. Judy White, Superintendent of Schools, Riverside County Office of Education, sharing her enthusiasm about  Glover Woods’ appointment stated, “We are proud and thrilled Dr. Cynthia Glover Woods has been appointed to the State Board of Education by Governor Gavin Newsom.”

White continued, “Dr. Woods has served as the chief academic officer of Educational Services at the Riverside County Office of Education since 2016 and has done an outstanding job creating programs to help Riverside County students succeed.”

Dr. White highlighted how Riverside has seen its students have the highest graduation rate in the state (90.1 percent) and students of color are closing the achievement gap, she shared regarding Glover Woods’ contributions. 

“This accomplishment is supported by the Excellence in Equity Conference she helped to establish to ensure all students have access to rigorous curriculum, a dedicated and focused College and Career Readiness unit, and other strong teacher preparation programs and professional development, and assessment and accountability support for Riverside County School Districts,” White affirmed.

Glover Woods was pleased and modest in her own  reaction to the appointment sharing, “I’m honored and extremely humbled to be able to serve the students and educators in this state.” 

“These are unprecedented times,” she stressed. ”What happens in our schools will be critical to the students that we serve in our state,”  noting how she and fellow members on the BOE will be working in partnership with other stakeholders to shape education in the state during this critical time.  

Although she never specifically aspired to serve on the state BOE, this new opportunity aligns perfectly with Glover Woods’ lifelong commitment to making a difference in the lives of children, acknowledging her passion in this regard, which was initially sparked when she worked as an instructional assistant in the 1980s. “I’ve always wanted to help children strive to be their best,” she said.

Beyond these roles, her experience in education by most standards, is expansive. It includes about a dozen years with the Compton Unified School District, which included her time as a teacher, language arts curriculum specialist, and elementary school principal.

Next, she held multiple positions with Riverside’s Alvord Unified School District (AUSD). During her tenure there she served as elementary principal, coordinator  of professional development, director of elementary education, and assistant superintendent of schools.   

As an education specialist, Glover Woods’ commitment to her profession and the students she serves, extends beyond a traditional “9:00 am to 5:00 pm.”

Over the years, she has held multiple positions related to improving the quality of education for inland area students including her participation in the Curriculum and Instruction Steering Committee of the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association, a member of the California Association of African American Superintendents and Administrators, and the Association of California School Administrators.

The appointment to California’s BOE gives Glover Woods a seat at the exclusive, 11-member State Board of Education table where she will now have a voice in making policy for grades K-12 on such significant topics as academic standards, curriculum, instructional materials, and assessments as another opportunity for her to advocate on behalf  of  the state’s children–especially those in underserved communities. 

“I will be in a learning stance [initially],” said Glover Woods, explaining how she looks forward to learning from the experience of those on the state board who have served prior to her joining, including Linda Darling-Hammond who currently leads BOE as its president.  

Acknowledging the educational challenges BOE faces in light of the current trials impacting California and the nation, she noted there are some very important policy decisions to be made in light of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. Glover Woods added she wants to ensure, “Every student has the opportunity to thrive in the environment that works best for them.” 

Dr. White attested to the experience and vision Glover Woods will bring to her new role. “Cynthia has dedicated her life to ensuring students succeed, whether it was in Alvord or Compton Unified School District, and now Riverside County Office of Education. She knows curriculum and instruction and how to engage students as well as provide best practices and research to educators to improve instruction. Her impressive experience will be an invaluable asset to our State Board of Education.”

She added, “Cynthia Glover Woods is the consummate professional and example of servant leadership. She will ensure a student centered agenda.” 

Glover Woods will need to call upon all her experience as she considers the challenges ahead. “When our students come back to school this school year,” she shared, “they will have experienced some unprecedented events that happened all at once, the health pandemic and school closures coupled with the calls for racial justice and equity.” 

She expressed the importance of acknowledging all this when the students return, further highlighting the work school organizations like the Riverside Office of Education and schools within its jurisdiction and others  have already started in this regard. 

“Equity has been the key buzz word for a number of years in Riverside County,” she said. “We have done a lot of work around providing an equitable learning environment for children.” According to Glover Woods this included work in key areas like unconscious bias training, the Excellence thru Equity program, the Footsteps to Freedom Tour, and other efforts to expand knowledge and capabilities in these important areas. “We need to continue on this path with a sense of urgency,” she stressed. 

Even as she takes on this new role, Glover Woods will continue on in her current service to the Riverside Office of Education. “I get the best of both worlds,” she confirmed enthusiastically.   

As Glover Woods steps into her added responsibilities with BOE, supporters are confident she will be an exceptionally qualified and sincerely committed voice for students, educators and parents in the inland region and across the state. 

“It is essential that we work together as a community.” Noting this effort will include, “Educators, families, community organizations, and businesses. Looking to the future,” she highlighted,  “We are going to be in unity linking hands together and moving forward for the next generation. It is going to be essential.” 

With the governor’s nod and nomination, the next step in the process is for Glover Woods’ nomination to be confirmed by the State Senate.  

Glover Woods, a Democrat, earned a Masters of Education degree from California State University, Dominguez Hills and completed her Doctoral degree at Azusa Pacific University which will be awarded this fall.

Stephanie E. Williams is managing editor with the IE Voice and the Black Voice News.