Julie Boesch is the assistant director of the State System of Support for the nonprofit California Collaborative for Educational Excellence. She was formerly superintendent/principal of Maple Elementary School District in Kern County. Before speaking at the Zócalo/California Wellness event “Can Rural Education Survive the 21st Century?,” she joined us in the green room in downtown Bakersfield to chat about why she doesn’t do karaoke, her favorite place to go in California, and what she’s reading right now.
It's October. What's your favorite Halloween candy?
I love candy corn. A few years ago, one of my teachers put them in a bowl with peanuts in the break room and I was like, oh my gosh, why knew? Candy corn with peanuts—sweet and salty. So good!
Who was an educator who made an impact on you growing up?
I grew up in Humboldt County. [At Pacific Union Elementary School] my sixth-grade science teacher’s grandparents were our cook and our janitor.
John and Mabel were my life. I was also their paper girl, so I would deliver papers to their house. I just loved John and Mabel. So not really educators, but people in my school that we knew loved us.
What is your hidden talent?
I love to paint. In the midst of last year, I had painted these California poppies on this windowpane, and my son comes—and he actually is an artist—and he looks at it, and he's like, no. There's not enough depth, and this does not pop, and no. So I had it behind a door in my house. And just recently, like in the last three weeks, I randomly went on Zillow, and really long story short, bought a house and sold my house. The agent who staged my house found [the painting] behind the door and hung it on the wall. And I’m like, Jake, guess it was good enough to sell my house.
What's your go-to karaoke song?
I don't do karaoke. Funny story. I was at this conference and a couple of my friends are singing karaoke. And I said, I can't sing! And they're like, come on! And so I do “Sweet Home Alabama.” And they're like, oh, yeah, no.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
I will just say my happy place is sitting in the water, being in the water and reading. I love reading. I will read all day and night if I had an option. Right now, for work, we're reading The Infinite Game. It's really super cool. It's about thinking about having a vision and a mission that is beyond attainable goals. Like an example would be—and this would be my dream—that every single child had an opportunity for a safe place to learn. That kind of thing. So having that be what drives your work. Something that is not probably attainable, but you can always strive for it.
Where's your favorite place in California to go?
Wherever my kids are. Right now, I have a son in Bakersfield. I have a son in Santa Barbara. And I have son in San Francisco. My son in Bakersfield has my two oldest grandchildren and my son in San Francisco has my two youngest grandchildren.