July 2017 Member Spotlight - Dr. Eddie Ruiz

Dr. Eddie Ruiz
Assistant Superintendent, School District of Palm Beach County, West Palm Beach, Florida​; ALAS SLA Alum, Cohort V
Career Highlights & Education:
This year will be my 18th year working with students in public education. I began my career as a High School Biology Teacher and later went on to become an ELL Compliance Contact, Dean of Students, and then Assistant Principal. I served as Principal of an alternative school and then a Title I middle school (one I attended as a student) that was an AVID National Demonstration School as well as an IB World School. I had the opportunity to move to Fulton County, GA and serve as High School Principal and really affected the quality of education by increasing access to the most rigorous courses for all students, while increasing graduation rates by 18.1%. I am currently the Assistant Superintendent for Student Services, Equity & Access at the School District of Palm Beach County, and lead the strategic initiative in our District around embedding culturally competent strategies into instructional practices. In my role, I am constantly challenging the status quo and ensuring that we are equitable and not equal for all of our students while also closing the opportunity gap in the 11th largest district in the nation, serving more than 186,000 students. We are impacting student achievement by transforming the leadership, culture, systems, and instruction.
What I like best about my job:
To begin, I do not see what I do as a job, but more like a calling. The opportunity to work in public education is both a privilege and a responsibility. I am the son of an immigrant mother with a 5th grade education who came to this country for a better opportunity. I am a first generation college graduate who has lived in poverty and been exposed to violence.
Through my educational career, I have had shoulders to stand on and advocated for me. As Assistant Superintendent, I have the ability to work with the Executive Cabinet to set the direction and tone for the school district and serve as a servant leader for our District staff who work with Principals and Administrators in order to impact teaching and learning on a daily basis. The best aspects of my work are those in which I have a positive influence, overcome challenges, and support staff to ensure that ALL of our students have the best education possible.
The best advice I’ve ever received:
The best advice I have ever received was from my mentor who would always build me up and encourage me by telling me that, why things happen will never be certain, take it in stride and move forward. He would tell me that we each have to build upon our stories which will be worth telling in the future.
Advice you would give a new central office/school leader:
My advice to a new central office/school leader would be to LISTEN first. Take time to listen from those that will be working with you in the organization because relationships matter first. After you listen, it is crucial to LEARN from those around you and to acknowledge the history. It is important to create an environment where people want to work on your team and then hire competent people who know how to get things done. Do not be so arrogant that you feel you have to be the smartest person in the room. Find smart people to work with who will give you the advice you need to hear. Lastly, LEAD by having a clear purpose and agenda built on high expectations where the focus is on teaching and learning. Don’t lose sight of the whirlwinds that will come each day, but set your eye on the success of EVERY child.
If I ever snuck out of work early, I would probably be found:
That would almost never happen, but in a blue moon if it occurred, I would be relaxing on a beach, under an umbrella, listening to my favorite music, sipping on a fruity drink.
People would be surprised to know:
I am a huge superhero fan! I am addicted to the TV Sitcoms Flash, Arrow, Agents of Shield, Luke Cage, Daredevil, and all of the Marvel movies. I am super excited about the Justice League movie coming out soon.
One thing I wish more people knew about ALAS:
ALAS is more than an organization it is a Familia! To have a professional association dedicated to identifying and building future Latino/a Administrators and Superintendents is extraordinary, and I am grateful that my path allowed me to serve as a member of the ALAS Superintendents Academy-Cohort V. A network of colleagues around the nation that you can call at any time to confer with or to exchange ideas is an invaluable component of the association. As a member of ALAS, we are now called to find one or two people that we can introduce to this great organization in order to continue to build our networks.