Elementary Schools Information Guide
Guadalupe Rios and her daughter, Rosie, former U.S. Treasurer, visit St. Clement School.
MICHELE JURICH/THE CATHOLIC VOICE
'I see you in me. I hope you see me in you.'
Open your wallet. Pull out a dollar bill. Check the signature on the left.
Odds are it says "Rosa Gumataotao Rios."
That penmanship was honed at St. Clement School in Hayward, where excitement over a visit from the 43rd Treasurer of the United States filled the early-morning air on Sept. 7.
They all call her "Rosie Rios."
St. Clement's most famous alumnus – and her mother, Guadalupe Rios, attended Mass with the students. Afterward, the former treasurer spoke to them.
Guadalupe Rios is a hero in her own right. She sent all nine of her children to St. Clement School, then to Moreau Catholic High School.
As treasurer, Rios led the campaign to put women on paper money. The U.S. Treasury announced on April 20 that beginning in 2020, Harriet Tubman would be the face of the $20 bill.
Additionally, the new $10 bill design will feature Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Alice Paul on the flip side of Alexander Hamilton.
The $5 bill redesign will feature, on the back, opera singer Marian Anderson, Eleanor Roosevelt and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
"If you can see it, you can be it," might be the theme of Teachers Righting History, a project that grew out of Rios' quest to get women on paper money.
Two months after leaving her post as treasurer and launching her new initiative, Rios was visiting her old school.
She was grateful and graceful throughout her visit, which included attending Mass, speaking to the students at the assembly and taking a tour of the school grounds. Student leaders Kayla Miranda and Xavier Garcia were her guides, along with principal Anne Crowthers.
There was delight. The stairs that seemed steep to the child were not that daunting after all. She good-naturedly gave the hula hoop a try, when offered one by one of the primary grade students at recess.
What is now the kindergarten room, she recalled, had been her fifth grade classroom.
Crowthers prepared a copy of the Class of 1979 composite photo, which Rios signed during her visit.
She met with the school's youngest students in their transitional kindergarten classroom. She posed for photos with each class, which, in turn, gave her gifts they made. Some were colorful riffs on paper money. All made their way to the car when she departed.
"Today is special for me for so many reasons," Rios told the students in her talk after Mass.
She not only put herself in their shoes, but she put them in hers.
"This is where we grew up, nine brothers and sisters," Rios said. "My mom, Guadalupe Rios, raised all of us in this community. We all went to St. Clement, every single one of us.
"I was here all the way from first grade to eighth grade — eight beautiful, glorious years of memories," she said.
Rios recalled more than her days in the classrooms.
"We came here not just for school," she said. "Every single Sunday you would find us here.
"We came here for confession. My First Communion was here, my Confirmation was here," she said.
St. Clement, she said, was a place of community, values and culture. "For us, our church and St. Clement was our village," Rios said. The Sacraments and rites affirmed her as a Catholic.
"That is who we are as a people," she said. "It's a way of understanding who we are, what we believe in, and how it shapes us, how it helps us moving forward."
She is grateful for that cultural identity. "I had a chance to visit the Vatican, and I thanked them all for making me who I am," she said.
She said she was grateful she had the opportunity to take her mother with her last year when Pope Francis visited the White House.
At St. Clement, she said, she learned "what it means to be respectful, to love, pray, to be grateful."
"To St. Clement, I say thank you for making me who I am, blessing me with all the gifts we were given and for inspiring me every single day, so I can continue on to do the right thing."
Her career path has been enviable.
"I don't think that would have happened without St. Clement, with the great education for all of us, not just a family of 10, but a family of 100 or 1,000 in this community," she said.
The students in the church that morning are part of that legacy.
"You are very, very blessed," she said. "I want you to remember that."
She told them how important it is "to remember where you came from."
"You're going to look back, as I do, and remember all the fabulous times you had here," she said, noting that she is still in touch with her elementary school principal, Gladys Radecke. Rios recognized her in the speech she gave as she was taking her leave from the Treasury Department.
"I see you in me," Rios told the students. "I hope you see me in you.
"I hope you can all come back and do the same thing when you're 51 years old."
For Guadalupe Rios, it was a happy and emotional homecoming.
She sent her children to Catholic school, she said, "because my parents did the same."
Raising them as a single mother had its challenges.
"For me, this is my dream," she said.
Her children, she said, began working at age 14; they brought checks home to her, who used them to help pay tuition. All nine have gone on to higher education, most in California.
Among them are an engineer, public administrator, MBA, teacher, computer specialist, electrician, teacher and attorney.
"They worked very hard," she said.
Guadalupe Rios worked with Catholic Charities of the East Bay as an outreach worker in an employment program for people 55 years and older.
Rosie Rios went to Harvard.
Mother and daughter recalled the day her acceptance letter arrived. Rosie Rios arrived home from high school, expecting to find a letter in the mailbox.
Instead, she found her mother, crying in front of an opened letter.
Rosie feared she had not been admitted.
Her mother was crying because she had.
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