It is with heavy hearts that we share that our California Adult Education system has lost an icon.
Rocky Bettar passed away peacefully on the evening of Tuesday, December 21, 2021; he had been battling with cancer and recently elected hospice care.
Rocky leaves behind an incredible legacy of advocacy, of commitment and of love.
Rocky served as the Director of Adult Education and Career Preparation in Rowland Unified School District since 1995. Rocky graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a degree in industrial arts and went on to earn his master’s degree in education from Azusa Pacific University. He began his career in Rowland in 1980, where he taught automotive technology, wood and metal shop, and machine shop.
Rocky has been a decades-long active member of the California Council for Adult Education (CCAE), the California Adult Education Administrators Association (CAEAA), and the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA). In each of these, Rocky aspired to leadership roles - and, in some cases, he held leadership roles multiple times. He served as a member of both the ACSA Career Technical Education Council and the Adult Education Council - and was the president of the ACSA Adult Education Council. Rocky’s good thinking and advice were often sought out to inform policy and advocacy - for both our professional organizations and for the California Department of Education. Through the years, Rocky served on a variety of advisory councils and field teams and most recently served as one of the three CAEAA representatives to the joint CAEAA-CCAE legislative advocacy team.
Rocky was widely acknowledged for his expertise and commitment. He was recognized as the ACSA State Career Technical Education Administrator of the Year in 2018, received CCAE’s prestigious “Robert W. Rupert Award'' in 2020 and received recognition as the Rowland Unified School District Administrator of the Year that same year. Under Rocky’s leadership, the Rowland Adult and Career Education (RACE) program was awarded a California Golden Bell for its Community-Based English Tutoring program.
Rocky took seriously the importance of communication to the field. If anyone wanted to get information to the field out quickly, we would call on Rocky to send it out to his exhaustive distribution list. Rocky took pride in his responsiveness. Usually within minutes of receiving, he would send out just-in-time information to adult education colleagues up and down the state. This information included anything from urgent calls to action for legislative advocacy to the more mundane job announcements.
We will remember Rocky as an inspiring and positive leader. He is someone who led with his heart and who loved and encouraged his students, staff and colleagues. An “attaboy” or “attagirl” from Rocky always felt good -- not because they were scarce, but because you knew they were authentic. He took the time to really see you and to acknowledge your accomplishment.
Rocky brought joy and a sense of humor to the workplace, and it was obvious to all of us how much he enjoyed being a part of education. He was not always easy; Rocky was known to speak his mind and known to be an independent thinker who was deeply opinionated. That said, it was always clear that his heart was in the right place and that he simply had to speak up to be an ardent supporter of and champion for our adult education students. It was not a choice for him; Rocky was just never a by-stander.
It was not only adult education and career technical education that benefitted from Rocky’s drive and commitment. Rocky was also a 48-year high school football and basketball official who served two three-year terms as president of the California Basketball Officials Association and two three-year terms as their Southern California representative. It is not surprising that Rocky was an avid sports fan, and he particularly loved the LA Dodgers. He loved the Dodgers so much in fact, that their logo was what Rocky used as his profile picture on several platforms.
Our hearts go out to Rocky’s family, our Rowland Adult School family, and to each of our adult education colleagues. May we find peace and comfort in reflecting on Rocky’s legacy, carrying his work forward, and knowing deep in our hearts how much he loved each of us and how much he valued adult education.
Funeral Service for Rocky Bettar:
Wednesday, January 19, 2022 @ 1:30 pm
Forest Lawn Memorial Park
4471 Lincoln Avenue
Cypress, CA 90630
There will be a livestream available for those who will not be able to join the in-person service. The password is Bettar; no spaces and it is case sensitive. Click the hyperlink to bring you to the broadcast on StreamSpot, where you can add the event to your calendar. The webcast will be available to view for up to a year.
Condolences and cards may be sent to the following address, and we will ensure that Rocky’s family receives them:
PO Box 4646
Whittier, CA 90607
You may also leave your condolences in the comments below.