Lydia Romero-Cruz

Picture of Lydia Romero-CruzLydia Romero-Cruz was born on February 4, 1961, and passed away in April 1996 at the age of 35. The only child of Sam and Clara Romero, she grew up in Santa Ana, attended local schools, and was deeply intertwined with her community. As a dedicated educator, Romero-Cruz specialized in bilingual education and strongly advocated for immigrant students to become proficient in both English and Spanish.

She was one of the city's pioneers of providing children with access to dual immersion education programs​. She believed that bilingualism is a powerful tool that can open doors for students academically and in their future careers. Her contributions to education and community earned her lasting recognition, including having a school named in her honor.

Inspirational Family Legacy

Lydia's father, Samuel Romero, a lifelong resident of the Logan neighborhood in Santa Ana, California, has been a dedicated community activist and served as a sergeant in the United States Marine Corps (USMC). Growing up in Logan, Romero experienced the challenges of poverty, segregation, and discrimination. He worked tirelessly to improve housing and education in Logan, addressing systemic discrimination and advocating for low-income families.

Romero-Cruz witnessed her father's relentless efforts to combat discrimination and improve living conditions for low-income families. His activism and commitment to social justice instilled a deep sense of responsibility and the importance of advocacy in her. Her father’s example also led Romero-Cruz to become a passionate advocate for bilingual education, recognizing its crucial role in empowering immigrant communities and preserving cultural heritage.

Career and Advocacy in Bilingual Educationmayor handing out proclamination

After graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a teaching credential, Romero-Cruz began her career at Fremont Elementary. She quickly gained recognition for her ability to tutor immigrant children in English, leveraging her fluency in Spanish. She specialized in Bilingual Education, recognizing the unique needs and strengths of students who navigated multiple languages and cultures. She fostered an environment where students could embrace and celebrate their cultural identities.

Beyond the classroom, Romero-Cruz was actively involved in community outreach, working with parents and community members to support bilingual learning at home and advocating for the benefits of dual language programs at school board meetings and educational forums. She later took a position with the School District, where she continued her advocacy until her sudden passing from a brain aneurysm.

Legacy Left Behind

In 1997, after her passing, Lydia Romero-Cruz was awarded the "We Honor Ours" (WHO) Award from the California Teachers Association for making outstanding contributions to the advancement of the teaching profession through their local leadership and effective representation.

Romero-Cruz's impact on her community was profound, and her legacy continues through the Lydia Romero-Cruz Academy, which the Santa Ana Unified School District voted to name after her in 2019. Her father expressed the importance of recognizing her name so that girls attending the academy could see themselves in Lydia's example. The school emphasizes bilingual education, reflecting Romero-Cruz's lifelong dedication to this cause.

Lydia Romero-Cruz's legacy was further highlighted by then-Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, who said, "Lydia knew that it's oaky to be Latina, to speak Spanish and English. It's okay to be from Santa Ana and, regardless of where you come from, that all of us have the potential to affect everyone else's life."

For her outstanding contributions to the City of Santa Ana, on August 18, 2020, a proclamation honoring Lydia Romero-Cruz was presented by then City of Santa Ana Council Member, Nelida Mendoza. Her contributions to bilingual education and her unwavering commitment to her community left a lasting legacy, inspiring countless students and educators to pursue a path of lifelong learning and cultural appreciation.

Reference Works

"School Pride," Lydia Romero-Cruz Academy, April 19, 2022.

"An Oral History with Samuel Romero interview by Kira A. Gentry & Amanda Tewes in Santa Ana, California, 2010." From the Center for Oral and Public History California State University, Fullerton, El Toro Marine Corps Air Station Oral History Project.

Kopetman, By Roxana. "Education Santa Ana school boardmulls honoring city founder after dropping name from a campus." Orange County Register, The (Santa Ana, CA), October 8, 2019: 4. NewsBank: America's News.

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