School leader inspired by persistence, 'drive to change' - Albuquerque Journal

School leader inspired by persistence, ‘drive to change’

Beth Dorado. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

Beth Dorado says she’s a “living example” of why her work is so important.

The executive director of the Gordon Bernell Charter School complex is a Manzano High School dropout who went on to acquire numerous professional licenses and college degrees.

She became Gordon Bernell’s “boss lady” last July, overseeing about 30 employees and three campuses for high school and adult education, including one inside the Metropolitan Detention Center.

Among her job duties are continuing to deal with COVID-related issues, expanding the school’s adult education component and developing job training programs.

“The reason that I dropped out of school to begin with is that at a pretty young age, I got stuck in an addiction cycle, and so I watched a lot of my peers die because of drug abuse,” Dorado says. “I watched incarceration really impact people that I cared about deeply. And so I always kind of thought I wanted to help people.”

Dorado taught from the elementary school to the college level before getting a master’s degree in counseling.

In her spare time, she has married and remarried the same husband three times, each on the first official start of a new season. It just sort of worked out that way, she says.

Beth Dorado. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

The first time, she and her husband eloped to Las Vegas, Nevada, on the first day of spring. They later moved to Zacatecas, Mexico, because her husband is Mexican, but they were having a hard time getting an insurance company to recognize their marriage. That resulted in wedding No. 2 — on the first day of summer.

The reason for their third marriage was that they wanted to exchange vows in a Catholic Church. The date the deacon suggested: the first day of winter.

“We’ve still got the first day of autumn, so we’re holding out for maybe that big wedding someday,” she says.

What do you like about your job?

“(Seeing) the persistence that people have, that spark and that drive to change. One example I can think of is somebody I met at MDC (Metropolitan Detention Center) and worked with in lots of groups. He ended up getting sentenced and sent to prison. Three years later, he was released, and one of the first stops he made was to Gordon Bernell. ‘I’m done, I’m finished, I want to pick up where I left off. This is so important to me.’ It’s that idea that if you don’t give up and you keep what you want close to you, that you can do it.”

What makes you successful?

“I think I am sometimes just in awe that I’m considered successful. I think it’s what makes anyone successful, is that grit, that perseverance, not giving up. All projects and all goals and all journeys have points in them where it’s really easy to turn away or to give up, and I think success is just about pushing through.”

Who inspires you?

“My parents have been together for almost 50 years, so they kind of inspire me in not giving up. My husband has been through a lot himself in the ways he struggled as an immigrant and with his family, and he’s never given up. In the professional world … I see people everywhere really committed to doing their best. Just that general experience that lots of people are doing good things inspires me.”

Tell me about a compliment you have received.

“I get told pretty often that I’m authentic. I don’t pretend that I have the answers or expect other people necessarily to have them either, but I’m willing to figure them out and work toward them. What I’ve heard that’s been really flattering is people reflecting that when they work with me, they can be real as well.”

What are your hidden talents?

“I do love to cook. I don’t know how much that is hidden because part of loving to cook is loving to feed people. I share it when I can. We make tamales and sell them around Christmas. They’ve funded several trips … to Zacatecas (Mexico) to visit my husband’s family. ”

How do you spend your free time?

“Ha, ha. Free time! Although I do really try to draw boundaries, because I know that moving up and taking positions that have authority require a lot of time, 60 hours a week is where I’m done. My boys are getting bigger, and I’ve been really involved. I laugh when you say free time because free time away from the job for years has been soccer practice and swim practice and music lessons.”

Any regrets?

“I regret the pain and the fear that my mom and my dad had to go through for several years. I spent about 10 years in a pretty vicious addiction cycle. And I know that I wouldn’t be the person I am without that or be doing the things that I’m doing or be able to do the things that I do well without that lived experience. But I know there were a lot of nights that I didn’t come home. That was heartbreaking for my mom and dad. And I regret that, for sure.”

What’s been a difficult professional situation and how did you overcome it?

“For me, the most difficult thing is confidence, a lot of the time. It’s believing that I can do things that I’ve never done before. And that’s what happens when you challenge yourself and you take on new opportunities is you get out of your comfort zone. I’ve had to battle almost that imposter syndrome. Like do I deserve to be here? Can I do it? I don’t think that ever gets easier, but it gets more interesting, and it’s resulted in me being really proud of the things that I’ve done. Even though I might feel like I don’t know what I’m doing, I remind myself that nobody really knows what they’re doing either.”

THE BASICS: Beth Dorado (born Elizabeth Ann Einhorn), 42, born in Albuquerque; married to Miguel Angel Dorado since 2003; two children, Miguel Angel Dorado III, 17, and Eduardo Rafael Dorado, 12; one cat, Snowy, two pitbulls, Nany and Zach, and two chickens, Mama and Pretty Girl; master’s degree in counseling, University of New Mexico, 2011; bachelor’s degree in human development with specialization in early childhood education, Pacific Oaks College, 2003.

POSITIONS: Executive director, Gordon Bernell Charter School, since July 2021; academic counselor, at the Gordon Bernell Metropolitan Detention Center campus, 2013-2021; counselor, Academy of Trades and Technology, 2011-2013; a variety of positions and schools in education field, since 1998.

OTHER: Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, subcommittee member; New Mexico Adult Education Association, subcommittee member.

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