As we prepare to launch the 2015-16 school year, it’s a year of firsts: my first as a superintendent of APS, as a resident of Albuquerque, and the beginning of my son’s education as a kindergartner in our local public schools. Perhaps the latter is the most important as it provides context for how I will approach the work, through the lens of a father, and as a parent wanting the best for my child. Accordingly, the impetus will always be to successfully teach, educate and serve all students in APS with the highest expectations.
Since beginning my tenure I have had the opportunity to meet with many business and community leaders, members of partner organizations, elected and appointed officials, leaders of our higher education institutions, administrators, teachers, and community groups. The outpouring of support, interest and commitment to the district is notable. One of my goals this year is to leverage this energy to transform APS into a high-performing, nationally recognized school district.
The work this year will be vision-driven and data-informed. Our agenda is to improve academic achievement and prepare students to be college and career ready. The spectrum will encompass how we can best address the needs of our youngest learners through early childhood education to identifying the skills, knowledge and characteristics we expect of our high school graduates and in so doing creating a graduate profile. Of course we can’t do this alone and we will be reaching out to you to partner with us as we move forward.
As we prepare our students, they need to know that our interest is to afford them meaningful opportunities here in New Mexico, whether it’s in STEM, finance, manufacturing, the film industry or in a corporate setting. We will continue to seek internships, mentors and job prospects for our students.
Additionally, we will pursue developing a portfolio of options for students and families. The expectation is that regardless of where a student enrolls, be it in a magnet, a charter, or a traditional school, the rigor and accountability will be consistent across the district. At the same time, we will work to ensure access and equity to all of our programs for each and every child.
We certainly face challenges, a myriad of them. But I am confident that we can excel at our work. My focus internally this year is to create a culture committed to performance excellence. We are going to work hard to earn and maintain your trust and confidence in APS.
To that end, our promise to you in approving our last bond election has been manifested in the opening this year of George I. Sanchez Collaborative Community School. We are also delighted that school lunches will be prepared from our state-of-the-art APS Food and Nutrition Services Facility. Furthermore, students, parents and guardians will have immediate access to teachers and school information from our StudentVUE/ParentVUE online system.
I have been told on a number of occasions, where APS goes, so goes the state. You can imagine the responsibility that carries; and yet, the challenge is energizing. Some also have noted that an opportunity exists to capitalize on the alignment of many factors, including building on reimagined relationships with the state Public Education Department, UNM and CNM, to name just a few. I intend on making the most of all the supports in place and offered to ensure our success.
As with any new year, the expectations are high, our resolve is renewed and the energy and excitement that accompany a new beginning is contagious. I remain humbled and privileged to lead APS and invite you to join me in realizing the true potential of our district.
Luis Valentino is the new Superintendent of Albuquerque Public Schools.