Trustee Joe Lara » BIOGRAPHY


Although San Diego has been my home for the last 30 years, I was born and raised in a working-class neighborhood in Los Angeles. Neither of my parents graduated high school but they always emphasized the importance of a good education. Thanks to their sacrifices, my siblings and I excelled in school and I am proud to say we each earned our college degrees. I moved to San Diego to attend SDSU, earning a B.A. in Social Science and a Single Subject Teaching Credential. I later earned my Educational Administration Credential from the University of San Diego. I have been a teacher and administrator in a variety of diverse educational settings including high schools, middle schools, inner city schools, charter schools, program improvement and college preparatory schools. I also had the opportunity to work for the Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE), a national parent advocacy group with roots here in San Diego, managing a successful parent involvement program for Latino and African American parents at San Diego High School.  After leaving PIQE, I served from 2003 – 2008 as the Director at the MAAC Community Charter School, an alternative high school for underserved youth in the South Bay. I continued my career as a school administrator in the San Diego Unified School District before returning to the Sweetwater Union High School District as Assistant Principal at Olympian and Chula Vista High Schools. 

An important lesson I learned from my family was to give back to my community to ensure all children have access to a high-quality education regardless of their zip code. I have been fortunate to be part of several local organizations and projects supporting education, the arts, indigenous rights, and social justice. I am actively involved in Círculo de Hombres, a mentor program for Chicano males and am the co-founder of Izcalli, a non-profit organization focused on helping Chicano/Latino youth learn about their culture and history while developing their leadership skills.

My involvement with charter schools brought me to Excellence and Justice in Education Academies when it began as a dual immersion elementary charter school in El Cajon. I was very excited to be given the opportunity to join the Board of Directors because EJE Academies reflects my values and beliefs as an educator and community activist.  I believe in our school mission and feel a strong connection to EJEA’s grassroots origins as a parent advocacy group. At EJE Academies we respect students’ home language, see their culture as a strength, actively teach them about social justice and encourage parent engagement. Since I joined the Board of Directors, EJEA has expanded to include a middle school and is now embarking on an ambitious renovation project that will provide for the academic, health and social emotional needs of all students.  I am excited for EJEA’s future and am proud to be a part of this movement.