BYRON, Calif. (KTVU) - A Stockton man rose from humble beginnings to head an entire school district.
Reyes Guana is the superintendent of the Byron Union School District, but more than two decades ago, he was cleaning schools.
He told KCRA, "I was fortunate to be a janitor and then a safety monitor in Stockton, then a vice principal."
Guana often helped his parents pick cherries on the weekends. He said those early experiences stuck with him over the years and helped shape him into the educator he is.
"We have to be out there with them, can't be in the office, we have to get out there and roll up our sleeves," Guana said. "I think a child's social and emotional needs have to take center stage."
He sees the importance of connecting with his students, who call him Mr. G, and fostering a safe environment.
"If a child doesn't feel safe to go to school, they are not prepared to learn," Guana said.
He balanced work and online college classes and remembers those who pushed him to pursue a degree.
Guana told KCRA he wants to pay it forward and find the best in students and learn what motivates them.