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December 2017 Member Spotlight - Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez

Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez
Superintendent, Hartford Public Schools, Hartford, CT

Career Highlights & Education:
 My commitment to public education spans over 20 years. I have had the privilege to teach social and behavioral sciences, serve as a school social worker, and over the years, hold positions of increasing responsibility and complexity including Assistant Principal, Principal, Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Leadership, Acting Superintendent and Superintendent. Throughout my leadership journey in complex urban settings, I have been guided by deeply rooted personal and professional commitments to continuous learning and improvement, a high standard of excellence, collaborative processes, and to building leadership capacity in myself and others in service of improving educational outcomes for each one of our students.
 

What I like best about my job: 
As a systemic thinker and practitioner in a complex urban system, I am energized by opportunities to cultivate and sustain interdependencies in and outside of the school district. I enjoy creating conditions to facilitate a rigorous learning community where student voice is championed; a system of high expectations that is supported by the entire community and that is grounded in authentic partnerships with families.
 

The best advice I’ve ever received:
Don’t underestimate the power of the humanistic element. Whether they are teachers, parents, students, or partners, they need to feel a personal connection to the vision and mission of the system.
 

Advice you would give a new superintendent or school system leader: 
Transformative change does not happen in isolation, it starts with having transparent conversations and soliciting honest feedback. Take a learner stance and commit to building collaborative partnerships early on by spending some time listening to all constituents, and validating their views; especially students.
 

If I ever snuck out of work early, I would probably be found: 
I would be found out on the road on a long run followed by some yoga and meditation practice. Not only are those my go-to self-care practices, but some of my best thinking emerges after I listen to silence.
 

People would be surprised to know: 
I have been a scuba diver for 25 years and every time I dive I develop a deeper appreciation for the underwater world and the power of intentional observation.
 

One thing I wish more people knew about ALAS: 
ALAS is modeling the very practices we know support equitable access to high quality teaching and learning. Whether it is at the annual Summit, through the state affiliate initiatives, or via the Superintendents Leadership Academy, ALAS creates opportunity for Latino and Latina administrators to learn from and with each other.