For more than a decade, Jose Sevilla spent his nights cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming classrooms and doing small maintenance jobs as night custodian at Santa Rosa's Luther Burbank Elementary School.
He worked nights cleaning and spent his days studying and caring for his growing family, but he always had a vision.
It would take years of adjusting his plans and getting too little sleep — with his job as janitor one of life's only constants — but in the fall of 2009, Sevilla showed up at Luther Burbank not for his 3 p.m. janitorial shift, but for the 8 a.m. school bell.
Kindergarten Teacher Jose Sevilla
Sevilla had become a student teacher.
Today, he is lead teacher at the Spanish-language dual-immersion Cesar Chavez Language Academy in Santa Rosa, with a classroom full of kindergarten students who call him “maestro” — a Spanish word for teacher
“It hasn't been easy for him, but he stuck to it,” said Kris Cosca, now director of human resources at the Napa Valley Unified School District and one of Sevilla's principals during his years at Burbank.
Sevilla acknowledges the challenges he's faced. “Going to school, working full time and also taking care of a family — that was definitely another gear that I didn't know I had.”
“There were times I considered, 'Maybe this is not for me because of the amount of work, maybe it's a good dream but maybe it's not meant for me.'
“But my subconscious would say 'You are here, you are doing well, don't quit.' ”
Sevilla embodies life lessons for kids, Cosca said. “Resilience, perseverance, that's what we want. I'm just so proud of him.
“I just love his story,” he said.
Sevilla's story is not a linear one. There have been stops and starts and disappointments, but friends and colleagues say his focus on the goal of being a teacher — while also providing for his growing family — has been laser-like.