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February 2014 Member Spotlight - Pedro A. Rivera

Pedro A. Rivera,
School District of Lancaster

Career Highlights & Education:  I am the first in my family to graduate from college. I have a Bachelor of Science from Penn State University, a master’s degree from Cheyney University of Pennsylvania and a superintendent certification from Arcadia University.

As a teacher I was awarded the Unsung Heroes Award for community service. My student club was awarded Club of the Year honors for ASPIRA Inc., a national organization. I help guide students to graduation and beyond in a high school that was known for extremely high poverty rates and urban challenges. As a principal, we moved a school from less than 5% proficiency to making adequate yearly progress in three years. That year more 70% of the students were reading at grade level. As an executive director responsible for human resources, we opened the school year with 41 teacher vacancies, the lowest number in the history of the School District of Philadelphia. As superintendent, we took the district from a $2 million deficit to one with a healthy fund balance. We’ve improved student performance each year for five years, decreased the dropout rate from over 450 students to 82, significantly increased the graduation rate and made the School District of Lancaster a district recognized by the state department and neighboring school districts as a high functioning urban school district.

What I like best about my job is:  I love the interaction with students and the community. Through our service we can improve the quality of life of children and our community is the most rewarding aspect of my job.

The best advice I’ve ever received is:  At the end of the day, never, ever compromise your values.

Advice you would give a new superintendent or school system leader:  First establish your goals, expectations and vision. Then use them as a north star to guide your actions and decisions.

If I ever snuck out work early, I could probably be found:  Picking my son up from school and catching an action movie.

People would be surprised to know that:  I’m actually pretty shy.

One thing I wish more people knew about ALAS is:  Unlike many other organizations, ALAS truly values relationships. Most of the members of this organization are caring, honest and open individuals who leave their egos at the door for the betterment of education and service to children.