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Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month at Robla School District

Photos of AAPI Robla Employees
Join us in Celebrating AAPI Month as we shine a Spotlight on our employees who are of Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage. 

This month, as part of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Robla School District is proud to highlight the contributions and cultural richness of our AAPI community members. 
Kelsey Zimmerman: Embracing Heritage and Community
We're excited to share the story of Kelsey Zimmerman, an enthusiastic first-year 5th-grade teacher at Main Avenue, who embodies the spirit and diversity of our district.
Kelsey Zimmerman celebrates her Chinese American heritage, which links her to a warm and extensive family history embedded in the Asian American community of California for over three generations. Her connection to her roots offers a living narrative of the diverse tapestry that is California’s history.
Cultural Celebrations and Traditions
Kelsey holds dear the Chinese American traditions that have been passed down through her family. She enjoys making homemade wontons and xiao long bao, which are a highlight during family gatherings. The Chinese New Year brings special joy, featuring a festive meal at a local Chinese restaurant and the giving of lai see, red envelopes with money, continuing a practice that brings generations together in celebration.
A Multicultural Tapestry at Robla
Kelsey's love for the Robla community is deeply influenced by its linguistic diversity, reflecting a range of cultural backgrounds. The prevalence of bilingualism among students and faculty is something Kelsey finds beautiful and impressive, echoing her own family's history with the Cantonese language.
Sharing Heritage in the Classroom
In her role as a teacher, Kelsey uses her biracial Chinese and Irish background to discuss the personal and profound aspects of cultural and racial identity. She encourages her students to explore and celebrate their own cultures, enhancing their understanding and appreciation of their unique backgrounds.
Chue Vang: A Pillar of Strength and Culture
Meet Chue Vang, who has served as our Hmong Bilingual Community Outreach Assistant for an impressive 23 years.
Chue Vang embodies the strength and perseverance characteristic of the Hmong community. His deep connection to his heritage is centered around family and community support, principles that he brings to his role within the school district. Chue’s commitment to education and community outreach has had a lasting impact, helping to foster success among countless students over the years.
Cultural Favorites and Celebrations
Chue has a particular fondness for seafood, with grilled fish and pho being among his favorite dishes. He eagerly anticipates the Hmong New Year, celebrated each fall, which is a time of joy and renewal for his community. These cultural practices are an essential part of his identity and offer a rich perspective to those around him.
Community Impact and Educational Advocacy
What Chue values most about the Robla community is its strong emphasis on educational advancement. Over the years, he has witnessed the transformation of many students into successful professionals, a testament to the community’s nurturing environment. Chue cherishes the moments when former students return to share their successes, a clear indicator of the positive impact of his and the district's efforts.
Sharing Heritage and Promoting Diversity
At multicultural school events, Chue takes the opportunity to don traditional Hmong attire and educate others about his culture. This not only celebrates his heritage but also promotes cultural understanding and appreciation among students and staff.
Yuko Kawakami: A Model of Respect and Cultural Pride
Meet Yuko Kawakami, who has dedicated 16 years to our community as an Instructional Assistant III.
Yuko exemplifies the core values of her heritage, especially the deep-seated respect for others, which she considers the cornerstone of her cultural identity. Her commitment to these values significantly contributes to the nurturing and inclusive atmosphere at our schools.
Cultural Favorites and Personal Reflections
Yuko’s favorite culinary delight is sushi, a dish that not only represents the culinary artistry of her culture but also brings a taste of Japan to our diverse community. She enjoys sharing this aspect of her culture with colleagues and students alike, enhancing our appreciation for diverse culinary traditions.
Community Support and Connection
What Yuko values most about the Robla community is the constant support and camaraderie she receives. Whether she faces personal challenges or professional hurdles, she knows she can count on the solidarity and assistance from her colleagues, which she deeply appreciates.
Sharing and Celebrating Culture at Work
Yuko takes every opportunity to share her heritage with the Robla community. Through casual conversations and showing pictures from her life and travels, she offers insights into her cultural background, promoting a greater understanding and appreciation among her peers and students.
Phikoune Ho: A Lifelong Educator with Deep Cultural Roots
Phikoune Ho, is a dedicated teacher at Robla Preschool who has been with us for 32 years.
Phikoune began her career at Robla as a bilingual instructional assistant and has since spent 28 years as a preschool teacher, deeply influencing the lives of our youngest learners. Her Laotian heritage is integral to her identity, providing her with a sense of belonging and shaping her approach to education.
A Rich Tapestry of Food and Festivities
Phikoune delights in sharing her love for Laotian cuisine, with favorites including Khao Niew (sticky rice), Tam Muk Houng (green-papaya salad), and Sai Oua (herbal pork sausage). These dishes not only represent the culinary richness of Laos but also serve as a gateway to her culture for the Robla community.
Each year, Phikoune eagerly anticipates the Lao New Year, celebrated from April 13 to 15. This festive occasion is a time of forgiveness, renewal, and community bonding, reflecting the cultural importance of family and togetherness in her life.
Embracing and Sharing Cultural Diversity
What Phikoune values most about the Robla community is the diversity of cultures and the mutual respect and support among its members. She actively shares her heritage at work by wearing traditional outfits and sharing traditional dishes, which highlights the importance of understanding and appreciating cultural diversity. As a teacher, she emphasizes the heritage, history, and cultural diversity of her students, fostering a classroom environment where everyone's background is celebrated.
Honoring Lina Tran: Celebrating AAPI Heritage at Robla School District

We are delighted to spotlight Lina Tran, the Assistant Principal at Glenwood Elementary, as we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Lina has been an integral part of the Robla School District for over ten years, beginning her journey as a student-teacher and progressively taking on roles that have had a profound impact across our district, culminating in her current position as Assistant Principal.
Lina's heritage, a blend of Vietnamese and Cambodian, is central to her identity, shaped by the enduring values and resilience of her parents who immigrated to America in the 1980s. Her connection to the vibrant Vietnamese community in South Sacramento/Elk Grove reinforces her sense of belonging to something greater than herself.

Culinary traditions play a vital role in connecting Lina to her roots. Her favorite dish is Thịt Kho Trứng, a savory Vietnamese braised pork with eggs, which represents the essence of comfort food for her. The Lunar New Year, or Tết, is especially meaningful for Lina, featuring family reunions, traditional games, and the festive giving of red envelopes, known as li xi.
At Robla, Lina appreciates the district's close-knit, welcoming, and supportive environment, which mirrors the communal values she holds dear. She actively celebrates her heritage by sharing her personal stories and embracing authenticity in her daily interactions and leadership, thereby enhancing the cultural richness of our school community.

We honor Lina Tran for her dedication to education and the unique cultural perspective she brings to the Robla School District. Her story is just one of many that illustrate the diverse identities and traditions that enrich our community during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and beyond.
Spotlight on Malynne Gonzales: Celebrating Cultural Richness at Robla Elementary
Malynne Gonzales is our esteemed Library Technician at Robla Elementary School. For over thirteen years, Malynne has been a cornerstone of our community, curating a library space that not only promotes reading but also celebrates cultural diversity. She skillfully manages significant programs like the Book Fair and Book Blast, ensuring that our book selections reflect a broad spectrum of cultures, including Asian, Pacific Islander, Russian, Spanish, Native American, and African American narratives.

Embracing Filipino Heritage
Malynne takes immense pride in her Filipino heritage, known for its hard-working, generous, and family-oriented values. These values deeply influence her work and interactions, bringing a sense of warmth and community to everything she does. The Filipino community's resilience and perseverance, despite historical challenges, inspire her daily dedication to our school.

Cultural Favorites
A lover of traditional Filipino cuisine, Malynne often shares her favorite dish, Sinigang—a sour soup filled with vegetables and meat or seafood—with friends and family. This dish represents the comfort and nourishment of her culture, which she enjoys introducing to others.

Community Connections
Within the Robla community, Malynne appreciates the diverse, family-friendly environment. She particularly enjoys the local bike trail, which provides a space for community members to connect and engage in healthy outdoor activities, enhancing the sense of belonging and communal life in Robla.

Sharing and Celebrating at Work
Malynne also shares her culture at work by preparing Bibingka, a traditional Filipino cornbread dessert, during the holiday season. This gluten-free treat is a hit among her colleagues, spreading joy and a taste of Filipino hospitality.
We honor Malynne Gonzales for her unwavering dedication to fostering an inclusive and educational environment at Robla Elementary. Her efforts ensure that our students and staff are continually exposed to a rich tapestry of cultural experiences, enhancing our collective understanding and appreciation of diversity. Join us in celebrating the unique and vibrant heritage that Malynne and others bring to our district.

Celebrating Vang M. Thao: A Pillar of Cultural Richness at Robla Preschool
Vang M. Thao is a dedicated preschool teacher at Robla Preschool. Vang has been a part of our educational community for 16 years, where she has played a pivotal role in nurturing young minds with her deep commitment to cultural education and diversity.

Embracing Hmong Heritage
Vang deeply values her Hmong heritage, which fundamentally shapes her identity across various roles—as a mother, teacher, wife, sister, daughter, and mentor. Her cultural values and traditions are integral to her personal and professional life, providing a strong foundation that enriches her teaching and interactions within the community.

Culinary Delights and Celebrations
Vang is passionate about sharing her culture through its cuisine. Some of her favorite traditional dishes include sticky rice, larb, pho, papaya salad, and Hmong sausages. She eagerly participates in the Hmong New Year, a vibrant celebration that highlights the rich traditions and community spirit of her heritage.

Diversity in Community
One of Vang's favorite aspects of the Robla community is its incredible diversity. She cherishes the opportunity to engage with colleagues from different backgrounds, learning about their cultural practices, languages, and heritages. This diversity not only enriches her personal experiences but also enhances the educational environment for all.

Sharing Culture at Work
Vang actively celebrates her heritage at work by sharing traditional foods with her colleagues and dressing in cultural attire during multicultural events. She takes these opportunities to educate both families and staff about her culture, promoting a deeper understanding and appreciation among the Robla community.

We celebrate Vang M. Thao for her unwavering commitment to education and cultural exchange. Her efforts ensure that our youngest learners at Robla Preschool are exposed to a diverse array of cultural experiences, fostering an inclusive and enriched learning environment. Join us in honoring the unique and vibrant contributions that Vang brings to our district.

Spotlight on Kristina Arciaga: Celebrating Cultural Heritage at Bell Avenue Elementary

As we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we are proud to feature Kristina Arciaga, a dedicated 2nd Grade Teacher at Bell Avenue Elementary School. With a remarkable tenure of 24 years at Robla School District, Kristina has taught students from 1st to 5th grade, including many enriching summer school sessions, demonstrating her commitment and passion for education.

Embracing Filipino Heritage
Kristina is a proud bearer of her Filipino heritage, known for its warmth, hospitality, and strong community values. Her cultural background emphasizes the importance of family, faith, and interpersonal relationships, which are central to how she lives and teaches. Regular family gatherings and communal celebrations are a vital part of her life, reflecting the vibrant and supportive spirit of her heritage.

Culinary and Celebratory Traditions
Kristina's connection to Filipino culture is deeply rooted in culinary traditions. Her parents once owned a Filipino restaurant in the Bay Area, where her mother's cooking and baking were widely acclaimed. For Kristina, food represents more than nourishment; it's a celebration of family and heritage. Her favorite celebrations include birthdays, weddings, and particularly Christmas, which are always marked with joyous family gatherings and delicious meals.

Dedication to Community
Kristina's long-standing role at Robla School District is a testament to her dedication. She appreciates the commitment that Robla staff bring to their roles, enhancing the community's strength and resilience. This mirrors the collaborative and supportive nature of her own cultural values.

Sharing Cultural Values at Work
At Bell Avenue Elementary, Kristina shares her Filipino heritage through her work ethic, characterized by resilience and dedication. These qualities are integral to her teaching style, allowing her to pass on lessons of perseverance and cultural appreciation to her students.

We honor Kristina Arciaga for her enduring dedication and for enriching our educational community with her vibrant cultural heritage. Her contributions are invaluable as we strive to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for all students at Robla School District.

Honoring Anne Mafi: A Beacon of Tongan Culture at Robla School District
Anne Mafi is our esteemed Staff Secretary in Special Education. Anne has dedicated seven years to the Robla School District, beginning her journey at Glenwood Elementary and now serving at the district office.

Celebrating Tongan Heritage
Anne is profoundly connected to her Tongan roots, embracing values that define her community: respect (Faka'apa'apa), humility (Loto To), loyalty (Tauhi Vaha'a), and an unwavering focus on family (Famili). Coming from a small yet mighty island, Anne is passionate about highlighting the richness and diversity of the AANHPI communities in America, ensuring that these vibrant cultures are recognized and appreciated.

Culinary Expressions
One of Anne’s favorite aspects of her culture is its culinary tradition. She loves preparing and sharing "LU," a traditional Tongan dish made of taro leaves wrapped around corned beef, enriched with onions and coconut milk. This dish is not only a taste of home for Anne but also a delicious introduction to Tongan cuisine for her colleagues.

Deep Community Ties
Anne's connection to the Robla community runs deep. She is a former student of Glenwood Elementary, giving her a unique perspective on the community's evolution and allowing her to reconnect with many familiar faces. Her journey from student to staff member highlights her deep commitment to the district and its families.

Sharing Heritage
Anne takes pride in sharing her heritage through the food she brings to work, using these occasions as opportunities to educate and connect with her colleagues on a more personal level.

We celebrate Anne Mafi for her dedication and for enriching our school district with the unique and vibrant culture of Tonga. Her contributions help make Robla a more inclusive and culturally aware community. Join us in honoring Anne and the diverse traditions she brings to our district.
At Robla School District, we recognize the importance of such cultural expressions and the value they add to our educational environment. We are committed to celebrating and learning from the diverse experiences of all our community members, not just during AAPI Heritage Month, but throughout the year.