Caren Floyd

Caren Floyd on Sept. 12, 2001, in her office at Wayside Elementary in Bakersfield. A day after the attacks of 9/11, she visited classrooms at her school to reassure students of their safety.

Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

Her mother only got as far as the third grade, but Caren Floyd would make education her life, earning a Ph.D and dedicating herself to educating others in the classroom and community. She was 71 when she died from cancer on April 2. 

“She certainly instilled a love of God and the importance of education,” her son Curtis Floyd told The Californian after her death. “Education was (the) great equalizer. I always knew I’d better not bring home any B’s.”

Active in several organizations, including the local chapter of the NAACP and the Alpha Kappa Alpha service sorority, Floyd was an inspiration, said Michelle Shannon, who faced the difficult task of announcing Floyd's death during a meeting of the sorority chapter. 

“She taught me about how, as a leader, you sometimes have to have what she called ’courageous conversations,’ where you set aside your emotions and say what needs to be said,” said Shannon, a kindergarten teacher at Discovery School. “I had to talk to the members of my chapter about Caren the same day she died. But then I remembered ’courageous conversations’ and it was all right.”

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