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Rising Stars: Meet Rosemary Eshelman

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rosemary Eshelman.

Hi Rosemary, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Growing up with seven other siblings in Cambridge, Massachusetts a suburb of Boston teaches you so many things. It teaches you to be resourceful, protect the limited stuff you have, and eat quickly because someone might take the rest of your plate. I had to fend for myself and know my way around the neighborhood. I have always had the type of personality that watched and learned and asked a lot of questions. Some adults even called me nosy Rosy.

My parents were caring loving people that believed in working hard and instilled a sense of that in their children. A high school diploma was a must, from there you were on your own. Even though we did not have a lot of money, my dad said he was the richest man in the world because he was rich in children. Since there was such a big age range in all of us, we were natural babysitters for each other, while my parents both worked two jobs each.

I learned at an early age to maneuver my way around the city using buses and subways. You become street smart and aware of your surroundings. I always had an inquisitive nature so talking to people was not difficult for me, in fact, I found strangers to be future friends.

The sense of community and community resources was something that I learned to seek out early. In the cold winter months, I would spend my afternoons at the City Library where it was safe and supervised. I was able to read and learn and play with all of the equipment that the library had to offer. In the summers, I would utilize the community pool as a way to beat the city heat. I could go every day for free and meet friends and we were able to challenge ourselves and get really tired in the pool.

Growing up in a low socio-economic neighborhood opens your eyes at an early age to the injustices that take place, how people look at you, treat you, and what their expectations are of you. My instincts were always that I needed to be more than where I was, I needed to get an education beyond high school. I wanted to find ways to connect people in my neighborhood with resources to help them.

I went to school for two years in back bay Boston and finished my degree in Administration of Justice in prevention and Corrections at Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas. I thought I wanted to work in Juvenile Detention Facilities, but after experiencing this work, I realized I needed to work with young people before they got in trouble with the law. I needed to connect with young people to spark them to pursue their dreams.

My journey took me to San Diego where I met my husband, soulmate, David on a blind date in the late ’70s. The conversations we had around family and engagement were such a great match for us.

I found work at the City of Carlsbad Recreation Department creating programs and events to engage young people and their families. This was a launch for me a bridge of what I knew I wanted to do. It sparked me to see when families are engaged with each other, they are connected to their communities.

The years rolled on we started our family with two amazing sons who I was lucky enough to be home with and nourish their lives and take part in our schools and community of Carlsbad. I found this so fulfilling to get to know people through the lens of who my sons chose for our friends not necessarily who we might choose to have as friends. It was fulfilling and gave me an opportunity to learn from so many others.

An opportunity came about to pursue a career with the Carlsbad Unified School District for Safe and Drug-Free Schools helping to create a school climate. This involved Social and Emotional Learning and Life Skills outside of the academic realm.

One of the responsibilities of my job was to work with a Community Collaborative comprised of City Departments, local clinics, and other non-profits. This was the piece I realized that was missing when I was young. This was the way to build the safety net and resources to help young people to flourish and grow by collaborating with agencies and organizations that help young people thrive and resist negative influences.

I have been Chairing this Collaborative for over 20 years and I have seen the effects of how collaboration and communication change lives in a community. The partnering and networking for resources that one agency might not have are now available from another. The connection, not the confusion of seeking the right people is all in one room. The directory of services is at your fingertip for the situations that arise. Agencies help each other not compete with each other for one common goal to help young people and their families. My spark renewed.

YES, meets monthly on a focused student-centered theme and features presenters from local youth agencies to share information on the services offered. Timely and pertinent information is also shared about the current issues and concerns within the community, such as prevention of substance abuse, e-bike safety awareness, student mental health wellness, and use of social media. This partnership has greatly enhanced the resources available to CUSD counselors, school psychologists, teachers, principals, and families to better support student success. Members of YES have been having partnered with CUSD to offer services and tackle community-wide issues. For example, Vista Community Clinic (VCC) presented at a YES meeting about the dangers of e-cigarettes. High school counselors and administrators were present at the meeting and shared how they were seeing an increase in students caught with the devices at school. CUSD began a partnership with VCC to host a series of Parent University workshops on the dangers of e-cigarettes. The following year, VCC presented information to every 7th, 8th, and 9th-grade student, in addition to continuing the workshops for families. Eventually, VCC began training CUSD staff to allow them to present the information to every middle and high school student. The resources, networking, and learning opportunities that every participant has from this program really make it one of CUSD’s most important engagement strategies to support parents, staff, and students.

I am still running this Community Collaborative YES in North County and it ebbs and flows with people and agencies. I have found other collaboratives across San Diego County to connect with and invite agencies.

The mantra I have for our meetings is “One Hour One Meeting YES”.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
It was very challenging at first to convince educators that Social and Emotional education is just as critical if not more critical than academic skills. It took a lot of hours engaging allies and the community as well as parents. I had never worked in education before I came from a community perspective.

Building a Community Collaborative with members that have value to the community takes years of connecting the right partnerships. It is a lot of work to be out in the community attending the right meetings and inviting the right partners.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
Student Services Specialist/Community Connector

1- professional level educational support services district-wide across all grade levels pertaining to health, wellness, school connectedness, and; 2- educational programs or projects relating to school safety, tobacco cessation, substance abuse, low self-esteem, anger management, decision making, and other matters which prevent a student’s full educational potential.

What others have said about me:

Rosemary Eshelman is a woman of incredible passion and optimism who inspires hope in the hearts of many for a brighter future among the people who live and work in our community.

Rosemary strives to interact with youth of all ages, genders, and ethnicities by inspiring them to learn more about the dangers of drug abuse, the potential for opportunities and success through education, and a deeper appreciation of cultural diversities. Her outgoing personality and determination to treat all people with respect and dignity have earned her an excellent reputation as well as the highest degree of credibility among everyone she meets. We continue to be impressed by her unique style, leadership, and the high standards she sets as a role model for other professionals who work with “at-risk” youth and their families.

Linda Ledesma Juvenile Justice Program Coordinator – Carlsbad Police Department

I don’t consider my work as a job, I love what I do. If I see a need to fulfill something for a young person it does not matter the day or time or where I am I will work to connect the services to help.

I am most proud and blessed to be able to be married to a man that we have mutual respect and love, have two amazing sons and daughters-in-law, and three beautiful grandchildren who are all close to us. We get to spend time with all of them, have family dinners together, and have great conversations. The peace of mind that comes from having this family love and support affords me the peace of mind to live each day and do what I do.

I am also so proud to be able to live and work in North County and be able to work with amazing agencies that care so much about young people and making a difference in their lives and supporting them for their futures. Collaborating is the key.

Where we are in life is often partly because of others. Who/what else deserves credit for how your story turned out?
There are so many people over the years that I have been supported by both silent and not silent. When I watch people try to list people and start thanking one over another, they usually leave a name out and someone feels hurt. That being said, I will say I have been supported by so many people in my life over the years both in the past and currently. that I would not be I am today without them.

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Image Credits
To all the attendees of YES

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