Triton alumna prioritizes positivity as a DODEA principal
If there is one thing that University of Guam School of Education alumna Rebecca S. Villagomez wants to bestow on others as a longtime educator, it is to fill the world with more positivity.
For the past 15 years, Villagomez has brought her bright-side outlook to her students while nurturing and promoting a safe learning environment.
“I want children today to use their strengths to make a positive difference in this world. There’s so much negativity, and we need more light to shine through,” she said.
This academic year, Villagomez became the principal of Yokota Middle School, a Department of Defense Education Activity institution at the Yokota Air Base in Fussa, Japan. With a new job, a new home, and a new school year — on top of the strict limitations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic — the past few months have been very busy for her. But the stress cannot beat down her unwavering optimism, along with all the training and experience she absorbed while on Guam.
“I started my career as an educator with the Guam Department of Education in 2005, and I strongly believe the foundation I received from GDOE helped pave the way to my understanding of teaching and learning,” she said.
From then on, Villagomez’s maturation as an educator was apparent in the positions she held: teacher, assistant principal, and eventually a curriculum coordinator for GDOE. Each step of the way required more training, which, in turn, gave her more tools to apply in the classroom. She also drew inspiration from personal experiences, which allowed her to be empathetic with students, parents, and colleagues. As the years went by, she realized her skills were ever-evolving.
“What really strengthened me was when I decided to return back to the classroom and apply the leadership trainings I learned as a teacher leader,” Villagomez said. My perspective changed because I was able to see the big picture that the district conveyed and not only apply the vision in my classroom, but also school-wide.”
Her passion for teaching blossomed when she transitioned from GDOE to DODEA, once again rising in rank from teacher to her current role as principal. With that big picture in my mind, she was able to take a holistic approach in both educating students and leading schools into fulfilling the goals of the education system.
Villagomez said she is proud to be a product of the University of Guam and the Guam public school system, and she attributes much of her success to the courses, teachers, and friendships she encountered along the way.
Her success was forecasted when she graduated as the valedictorian of UOG’s Class of 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in education. One of her former education professors, Lourdes Ferrer, who still teaches at UOG, praised her aptitude and diligence as a student.
“Her excellent knowledge of subject matter and pedagogy was always demonstrated in her lessons that were carried out during practicum in the schools and the research that she conducted to support the strategies she used in teaching those lessons,” Ferrer said. “She is a knowledgeable scholar, and this is quite evident in her work.”
Villagomez furthered her education at UOG and earned a master’s degree in administration and supervision in 2007. She then graduated from Argosy University in Hawaii with an education doctorate degree in 2017.
If there was a formula for success, this is how Villagomez would phrase it: “God + responsibility + respect + grit = success.” Her lifelong goal is to fulfill God’s plan for her, while also motivating others around her.
“No matter what role I am in, I want to mimic God’s loving and forgiving traits in order to inspire and empower others around me,” she said. “I want to lift people up.”