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February 2015 Member Spotlight - Dr. Roberto Padilla

Dr. Roberto Padilla,
Superintendent, Newburgh Enlarged City School District
Newburgh, NY
ALAS Superintendents Leadership Academy (SLA) Alumnni

Career Highlights & Education:Similar to many of my colleagues in ALAS, I represent “many firsts”. I am the first in my family to graduate high school, college, and achieve my doctorate.

B.S. in Education, Brockport College, Ms.Ed. in Reading & Literacy, Fordham University, Educational Policy, yearlong fellowship, Teacher’s College, Columbia University; Advisory Board Member/Group Leader/Moderator, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Ed.D. in Urban School Leadership, Fordham University.

What I like best about my job isI get many raised eyebrows when I tell people I am having fun as a superintendent. Undoubtedly, the work is challenging, complex, political, and unnecessarily difficult at times, but when you know you have been blessed with an opportunity to advocate for kids, to inspire adults, and to problem solve on the highest of levels, what’s not to enjoy? Perhaps it’s my naiveté as a first time superintendent or maybe I just approach this work with great humility that allows me get up each morning with purpose.

The best advice I’ve ever received is:  Here are several pieces of advice that have stayed with me:
1. "Normal only exists as a button on the washing machine”
2. "Pay now or pay later! Pay for healthy food now or pay with your health & wallet combating ailments later in life"
3. "Family first! Strike a professional and personal balance. Prioritize family time”

Advice you would give a new superintendent or school system leader:  Establish a board of mentors who you can regularly call and/or visit for advice. There will be times during your superintendency when you need honest, critical feedback or just need to vent or need an outside perspective. These mentors should be a mix of educators and non-educators. Select people who you can trust and who want to guide you. Don’t be afraid to ask someone you admire to serve on your board of mentors.

If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: The thought of sneaking out is just as funny as probably doing it. Well, if I ever sneak out and don’t go to the beach, I give you all permission to hunt me down and drag me there by any means necessary.

People would be surprised to know that:  I learned early on in my life the importance of resiliency. I have an ability to persevere when others find it easy to give up that allows me to continue to have success as an educational leader. I was a foster care student; relied on the shelter system at times for food, clothes, and toys in elementary school. I was suspended routinely in middle school and joined the wrestling team in High School and college to release my frustration. So instead of getting suspended for fighting, I became an NCAA All-American.

One thing I wish more people knew about ALAS is:  I have had an amazing year getting to know and learn from many dynamic Latinos who are leading positive change across the United States. I’m so grateful and proud to be part of Cohort III. If you want to join a family of equity warriors, then ALAS is the way to go! "Pa que to lo sepas!"