They say for every ending there is a new beginning. My time as interim superintendent for Albuquerque Public Schools is coming to a close, but my affinity for our shared mission is stronger than ever.
After 20-some years with APS, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what was in store for me as I stepped into the superintendent’s office eight months ago. Boy, was I in for a surprise!
Being the superintendent of a large urban school district is a lot like being a parent. More than anything you want to see your children or in this case your students, teachers, staff and community excel. You worry at every turn about how the decisions you make will impact them. You’re haunted by should haves, would haves and could haves.
You feel the pain when someone in the family is injured, and the utter joy when they triumph.
And no matter what happens the day before, you get up each morning and give it your all because so many people depend on you.
I have learned so much in the past few months, and for that I thank the APS Board of Education and the entire school community for having the confidence to allow me to lead to the best of my abilities.
I wasn’t able in eight short months to accomplish all that I want for Albuquerque Public Schools. We’re still not graduating enough students. Truth is, if even one of our students doesn’t earn a diploma, we’re not doing enough. And we still need to work on getting all of our kids reading by the third grade and grasping math equations.
But I am happy with what we were able to accomplish including our anti-truancy campaign that rallied the community to examine the problem and commit to keeping kids in class where they need to be during the school day.
Another priority of mine was cultural proficiency and respect for all. And APS continues to expand school choices to meet the individual needs of our students.
One of my greatest hopes is that we never take this community for granted. Time after time folks in business, nonprofits, government and civic groups invite us in to be a part of their world and offer to help in ours. The relationships APS has with the community can change everything.
The work isn’t done. Not even close. But what I saw daily as interim superintendent was a tsunami of good.
I met teachers and students who are as quick to give, as they are to receive. Teachers like Sonya Romero of Lew Wallace Elementary who got national recognition for taking students into her home; students like our 28 Selfless Seniors who represent the many in APS who raise money and awareness, give of their time, and give back to their community.
I’m leaving APS with a full tank. I expected the job to be hard, but I’ve been blown away by the humanity, the potential, and the immeasurable goodness.
I may be saying goodbye to a job, but not to APS or Albuquerque – my home. I attended Bandelier Elementary, Wilson Middle School and graduated from Highland High. I have always supported Albuquerque Public Schools because I realize what an important role our schools and public education play in the future of this community.
Please help me welcome our new superintendent, Dr. Luis Valentino. I can tell you from my conversations with Dr. Valentino that he’s sharp, thoughtful, qualified and ready to take on the enormous responsibilities ahead. I’ll be rooting for his success because our students and the vitality of Albuquerque depend on it.