“From humble beginnings come great things.”
Vielka McFarlane grew up in poverty. Her family struggled to make ends meet, however, what they lacked monetarily, they made up for in values. Vielka’s parents instilled in her the principal that education was the key to success. They worked long and exhausting hours in order to provide her with a private education. Their work was not in vain; Vielka excelled in her studies and graduated with honors. She was accepted to a college in Panama where she majored in International Relations. Vielka moved to Los Angeles in 1982 and earned her bachelor’s degree in economics at California State University, of Los Angeles and later received her Master’s degree from National University, all while honing her English by taking English language classes in the evenings. She completed the Doctoral Organizational Leadership Program and Pepperdine University in 2004, and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Education from the Universidad Instituto Americano Cultural, SC in Mexico City. Vielka is currently enrolled in the Doctor of Business Administration at the International School of Management in Paris, France.
Upon arriving to Los Angeles, Vielka saw severe educational disparities that directly correlated with socioeconomic status, and decided to focus on serving underserved communities in the inner city of Los Angeles. She worked with the Los Angeles Unified School District for 14 years, introducing her students to extra-curricular activities such as tennis, chess and yoga, broadening their perspective and motivating them to stay in school. She instilled in her students a sense of ownership, encouraging them to take control of their own destiny. As an educator, Vielka not only gave her students the desire to be successful, she gave them the tools to help them follow through and reach their goals.
Vielka’s impact did not go unnoticed; she went from teaching one classroom, to becoming the principal and eventually became a coordinator at Los Angeles Unified School District’s office. While appreciating all the knowledge she gained from those experiences, she felt like opening her own charter school would give her the true freedom to provide high risk students with the programs and guidance needed for success. In 2005, Vielka took this opportunity to begin her highly successful “Celerity” charter schools. Now with eight, each school offers an exceptional, high quality college preparatory curriculum that has proven to be both challenging and successful. Academic results have placed each school within the top 10 to 20 percent of the state’s ranking, easily surpassing their local surrounding schools.
Vielka has found the right formula for creating a much needed alternative education from the current public schools that, due to state budget cuts, have been failing for years. Vielka has transformed her original creation into a network of schools that spans two continents. In the fall of 2013, Vielka opened her first high school in Los Angeles and expanded into Ohio, Louisiana and Florida. Vielka has partnered with several schools in China and began a foreign exchange program where hundreds of students from both countries gain cultural, language and academic proficiency and travel abroad experience. Her expertise in education management is well known amongst her colleagues and her advice is often sought after by many who are trying to repeat her success story.