Born and raised in Yakima Valley in Washington State, LeBlanc-Esparza was part of a working migrant family. Second to the youngest in a family of five, he worked the fields during the summer and school breaks. After high school he attended Columbia Basin Junior College, then enrolled at the University of Central Washington and acquired a BA in physical education in 1983. He acquired a master’s degree in science, graduating in 1985. LeBlanc-Esparza is currently pursuing a PhD through the University of Northern Colorado (UNC). LeBlanc-Esparza returned to Grandview High School in a teaching capacity (general math/physical education) also tutoring migrant students and serving as wrestling coach. He remained at Grandview for 16 years, later serving in the position of Athletic Director and Assistant Vice Principal for the last 6 years. He began working at Granger High School, a high poverty, low testing student body whose reading level tested at 20 percent reading level and a 7 percent writing level. After nine years, the school turned around measuring at 100 percent parent involvement, 90 percent graduation rate (state assessment) 77 percent reading level, lowest community crime level and sports achievement. In 2010, he joined a team of 400 delegates chosen by a College Board to study the academic habits of Chinese students. He met his wife Kym, who lived in Colorado, on that trip. Also, along with co-author William Roulston, LeBlanc-Esparza has written a book titled, “Breaking the Poverty Barrier and Changing Student Lives,” which will be released in August. LeBlanc-Esparza has four children, Ricardo, 23, Natasha, 21, Sara 20, and Kayleigh, 16. The couple enjoys gardening, horseshoe pitching, boating and motorcycle riding.
About Florence Crittenton High School
Founded nationally in 1893, Florence Crittenton established a local presence in 1984. It is a nonprofit that empowers struggling teens to become productive members of the community. LeBlanc-Esparza adds, “We want to, 1) Make this school successful and 2) create a replicable model.”
High School Experience
“Racism was alive and well at Grandview High in 1977,” notes LeBlanc-Esparza. Speaking Spanish was not allowed. LeBlanc-Esparza says, “I did not want to continue working in the fields, so I persevered negativity.” He earned All-American status in wresting (2nd in the nation in the 150 lb category) and in academics.”
Message to Youth
“Work hard to access the power of education. Make a 5-year plan to earn a post secondary degree, which is going to change your life.”
“When the going gets tough keep in mind that the world will not accept excuses. Also, it is so much easier to fight when you are fighting for the right thing.”