January 2018 Member Spotlight - Dr. Veronica Vijil

Dr. Veronica Vijil
Associate Superintendent, Canutillo ISD, El Paso, Texas


Career Highlights and Education:
I’ve had the pleasure of serving students in education for nearly 30 years. About 25 years were spent either as a middle school teacher, assistant principal, or principal.  Middle school rocks! As a principal, I had the wonderful opportunity to open a new campus - thanks to Dr. Michael Hinojosa, (ALAS), who believed in me and appointed me principal of Bailey Middle School in Spring, Texas where he was then Superintendent. I’m currently Associate Superintendent of Canutillo ISD, just outside El Paso, Texas, where I’m fortunate to have another great mentor in Dr. Pedro Galaviz, (SLA Cohort 2). I earned my degrees at The University of Texas at El Paso (B.S.), Indiana Wesleyan (M.Ed.), and Sam Houston State University (Ed.D.).
What I like best about my job:
I love working with anyone who will remove stumbling blocks and obstacles in an effort to enhance our youths’ experiences.  Each week I look forward to visiting schools to have conversations with both the adults and students. The kids energize me and the visits allow me to see what’s working and to brainstorm with the principals about how to remove barriers. Plus, who knew that I would return to my hometown after 27 years? I have the opportunity to give back to the community where I grew up.
The best advice I’ve ever received:
Among the best advice I’ve ever heard was stated in The University of Texas at Austin 2004 commencement speech by Admiral William McCraven. In part, he said, “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. By the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that the little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right. If by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made. That you made. And a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.” I encourage you to take a look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxBQLFLei70&t=1015s
Advice you would give a new central office/school leader:
“Buckle your seat belt, this might be a bumpy ride,” but also, “Slow down and enjoy the ride.” I would advise him/her to step back, observe, and listen to as many stakeholders as possible before moving in and trying to “fix” things. Everything can’t be broken, so strengthen what is working best.
If I ever snuck out of work early, I would probably be found:
Now that El Paso is about to open a Top Golf facility, you might find me there. Still, you might also find me playing tennis, hiking, or maybe even hopping on my Harley with my husband, John. For absolute sure, I’d have a Facetime conversation with my 4-month-old granddaughter, Brianna!
People would be surprised to know:
I never went to kindergarten; I started school in 1st grade when I was five years old. It was hard for me to catch up.
One thing I wish more people knew about ALAS:
A common thread exists among ALAS members with a deep connection to our Latino roots. It’s fulfilling to be part of a network of mentors who have similar backgrounds. The members of ALAS are leaders in their respective communities and can lend a helping hand whenever needed even if you’ve never met them before – just say you are a member of ALAS, and a helping hand will be extended. As far as the Superintendent Leadership Academy goes, valuable friendships, learning and fun will occur that will last a lifetime.