Lodi News-Sentinel

Lodi’s Elena Wong to be honored for her work as an educator

- Wes Bowers NEWS-SENTINEL STAFF WRITER

Every year, the San Joaquin County Commission on the Status of Women recognize several women in the community who have contribute­d significan­tly in a variety of fields and industries through its Susan B. Anthony Women of Achievemen­t Awards.

Next month, 10 women from across the county will be recognized, and one of those is Lodi’s Elena Wong.

“I’m really surprised,” Wong said. “There are so many more deserving people in the AAUW who have done so much more in the community.” Born in San Francisco, the 81-year-old Wong has lived in Lodi for four years, and has a long history in San Joaquin County education.

She was named associate superinten­dent of the Stockton Unified

School District in 1989, spending nine years there, and worked for the California Department of

Education.

“I brought nine years of stability to the (Stockton) district,” she said. “I got a handle on things and really turned it around.”

While at Stockton Unified, Wong handled services in the wake of the Cleveland School shootings, and increased the number of teachers with English as a Second language certificat­ion from 200 to more than 600 in two years.

“The state was really coming down on Stockton Unified regarding bilingual education,” she said. “The district was operating on expired guidelines, and the emphasis was on hiring teachers, not student achievemen­t.”

Wong and district staff were able to implement ESL testing sessions for teachers to earn certificat­es and increase the number of instructor­s who could work with bilingual students.

“Teachers often don’t go to a university, but a state college, where a course in foreign language isn’t required to graduate,” she said. “we gave those teachers the ability to help students learn English.”

Wong worked for the state DOE when Title IX and the Women’s Equity Act were being written, she said.

Her role was to promote desegregat­ion and integratio­n in schools, as well

as find ways to eliminate racial conflict by networking with the League of Women Voters, the American Associatio­n of University Women and other women’s advocacy groups to get both programs implemente­d.

Wong also helped create the California Asian Pacific Women network, a voice for 1,500 women to help make policy and legislatio­n.

Now retired, Wong is currently researchin­g a book on the Ming Quong Home in Los Gatos, a now-shuttered group home for more than 400 Chinese girls between 1925 and the late 1950s, where she once lived.

“I ran the mean streets of San Francisco until I was 11, and then I was placed in the home, which was run by Presbyteri­an missionari­es,” she said. “I did very well in school. I had a great teacher who motivated me and opened doors for me. I eventually felt that education was my life path.”

Wong earned a degree from the University of California, San Francisco, and provided her with a 29-year career in education.

The Susan B. Anthony Women of Achievemen­t Awards honor women who have made achievemen­ts in San Joaquin County in categories such as business, community service, creative arts, education, government and politics, homemaking, law and legal services, labor and employment, health care, media, peace, religion, research, science, sports, women’s rights and women’s services.

Wong and the other nine recipients will be honored Feb. 15 at 6 p.m., at the Hilton Hotel, 2323 Grand Canal Blvd., in Stockton.

“I am so proud to be a member of the Lodi branch of the AAUW,” she said. “It’s a dynamic group of women. When a task is to be done, you only have to ask someone once. They are on top of things.”

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