Rabia Minhas '99, Education
Rabia Minhas has a palpable adoration for education and the Pomona community.
The education alumna has worked in the Pomona Unified School District for more than a decade and is starting her second year as principal at Kellogg Polytechnic Elementary School, which is a mile from Cal Poly Pomona.
“It’s home to me,” says Minhas when thinking about her time in Pomona. “I have this dream of being able to give back to the community.”
Before she became an educator, she dreamed of owning a restaurant. After moving from Houston to California, she enrolled at Cal Poly Pomona in the hotel and restaurant management program. It wasn’t until she started volunteering at her younger brother’s elementary school that she realized her true passion was working with children.
“When I was in the classroom, I fell in love with what I was doing,” Minhas says.
Minhas switched from majoring in hospitality management to education, graduating in 1999. Over the years, she has taught at a “challenging” Pomona elementary school, worked as a resource teacher/administrative designee and helped English language learners. As a teacher and leader, Minhas says she has “loved the difference she was making.”
“They say that every experience you have prepares you for something, and each of the experiences I’ve had at these wonderful diverse schools has built the foundation for the work I am doing today,” Minhas says. “I look back with fondness, appreciation and gratitude for every single one of my experiences.”
One of her goals this year is to apply Cal Poly Pomona’s learn-by-doing approach at Kellogg Polytechnic, specifically in the fields of science, math and engineering, as well as to strengthen the partnership between the two campuses.
For example, she hopes to revive a garden near the school playground for a variety of reasons:
- Grow plants that attract butterflies so students can learn about the insects’ life cycle.
- Restore the water fountain to encourage amphibians and other critters to inhabit the area.
- Start a worm composting project that demonstrates lessons on food and life cycles.
- Build a large tangram math puzzle near the garden.
Kellogg Polytechnic has been working on the garden project with the College of Education & Integrative Studies as well as the College of Agriculture. “It is a wonderful institution. I am who I am today because of a lot of my professors there,” she says.
“Rabia Minhas is a Bronco through and through,” says Peggy Kelly, dean of CEIS. “She has done a great job of building on the strengths and progress of the previous principal. We have many common dreams about how we can work together to support the students in her school.”
The Cal Poly Pomona Foundation also supports the elementary school, which is in the neighborhood where the foundation owns several homes in the faculty/staff affordable housing program.
The foundation donates school supplies every fall through the Community Assistance Reinforcing Educational Success program.
“The kids love getting the supplies. It means the world to some of them,” Minhas says. “Budgets are tight, so supplies are a huge help.”
Over the years, the rewards of teaching have become priceless to Minhas. Many of the fourth-grade students she taught have gone on to four-year universities, but they are still connected thanks to social media.
“For many teachers, it’s a way of life where our students become a part of us, a part of our very large families, and watching them grow and mature is what makes it all worth it,” Minhas says.
“This career gives us so much more back than what we imagine when we first start out.”
Minhas says her educational career in the Pomona community, particularly her role as principal, has gone beyond what she could have imagined for herself and credits much of her inspiration to her superintendent, Richard Martinez, and deputy superintendent, Stephanie Baker.
“This journey has been filled with meeting amazing, supportive, kind people and opportunities that I’ve embraced because they have polished me,” Minhas says. “I cannot wait to see what new and exciting adventures await.”
“I still walk around campus and think, ‘Wow! Someone gave me my own school!’”
Minhas’ next adventure may include another visit to Cal Poly Pomona. She is considering returning to her alma mater to obtain her doctoral degree in education.