February 2017 - Ron Cabrera


February 2017

Welcome to the CO ALAS “Membership Spotlight.”  Each month we want to introduce you to one of our many CO ALAS members. Let’s see what they doing and what’s on their mind. 

This month we are featuring the Chair of CO ALAS, Dr. Ron Cabrera, Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services & Equity in the Boulder Valley School District. 

Career Highlights and Education.

This is my 37th year in public education. It continues to be thrill a minute, but certainly the issues are changing and my own perspective has changed from when I first began. 

Briefly, as a teacher I have been a middle and high school English/Language Arts and science (Biology and Life Science) teacher, a high school track and cross-country coach, a student activities advisor (one of most fun positions I ever had!), and an ESOL teacher.  During this time, I earned my doctorate degree in educational leadership, focusing on the significance of mentoring relationships. 

When I entered administration, I took a serendipitous turn from secondary education into elementary education and was an elementary assistant principal for a year, before I entered my first principalship. After three years, I was recruited to a suburban school district to be the principal at a new 4-track year around school, which I did for four years. 

I then made the move to the central office as the director of curriculum and management in a smaller, highly socio-economically impacted urban school district.  The work was hard, stressful, and yet very rewarding. However, due to another opportunity, I left Colorado and went to the state of Washington to be the Executive Assistant of Integrated Learning Services (that’s a mouthful). Essentially, I supervised federal grants, state read, writing, and math intervention grants, at-risk strategies, summer school, English Language Learners, and eventually started the migrant education program. 

A great experience, but I missed Colorado, so I returned to be a high school principal (Boulder HS). After four years, I moved to another district to be the assistant superintendent of educational programming, later being named the Deputy Superintendent. From there, I was selected as Superintendent of the Thompson School District (Loveland, CO), which I dearly loved. Alas, I got a divorce from the Board of Education. Fortunately, I have come to rest in the Boulder Valley School District, enjoying curriculum, instruction, and advocating for the respect and success of all students. 

I have been very fortunate in these varied roles--Federico Pena, Mayor of Denver, proclaimed a day for me; I  contributed to the writing of the Colorado literacy act; I took the lead in initiating district-wide LBGTQ professional development and policy writing that received national attention all the way to the US Department of Education; with a colleague, we  encouraged and supported the development of a Latino focused doctoral program at the University of Colorado-Denver; and, have developed and taught in a Leadership Development Diversity Program, sponsored by the Colorado Association of School Executive (CASE), targeting teachers of color to enter formal school leadership roles. 

My end game?  First and foremost to increase the success of all students, especially those students who are typically marginalized by our institution. Secondly, I want to develop talent of school leaders, especially Latino/as, who have the same sense of mission and vision to reinvent our public school system to be an even greater lighthouse of opportunity for all students. 

What is so exciting about my job?

I get excited whenever I see rich professional practice . . . whenever I seen students light up with an “ah ha!” and success and curiosity while they learn.  From a professional leadership perspective, I love being involved in either the creation or implementation of visionary strategies that will change a system. That’s a huge challenge, but also a rich reward. I might add I am so lucky to have many talented colleagues to work with. I see the potential and opportunity right before my eyes! 

Words from a consejero

From many of my mentors I have learned to act on opportunity, but this comes from being a continuous learner. I read all the time and meet with different groups so I am never caught short. I have learned a lot from asking questions (My wife and I remind our children to “Ask good questions . . .”).  My mentors reminded me that while the next opportunity poses risk, it also provides great learning, great reward, and offers great leadership. 

Advice you would give a new superintendent or school leader?

Build from your strengths, but listen and learn quickly.  Being a new leader requires great focus and commitment and lots of new learning; so, create a network of colleagues and consejeros, who you can bounce ideas off and learn from. This kind of support is “priceless.” 

If you catch me outside the office, you’ll find . . .

Some of the things I like to do during down time is running, playing golf, and/or reading. The exercise clears my mind, like a reset; the reading satisfies my curiosity. I have five adult children and eight grandchildren and I enjoy having all of them to come and visit--la familia es muy importante! 

How CO ALAS adds value?

I believe being part of CO ALAS makes me part of a special leadership community that is committed to advancing students’ successes, especially in circumstances that are unique to students of color and/or differences.  Additionally, I so appreciate that there is an organization that has an understanding of the challenges facing educators of color, particularly Latino/as, and is willing to create the supports that will advance quality leaders.

CO-ALAS is a professional education association that advocates for the continued development and placement of Latino/Latina administrators who are committed to quality public education for all students.


PO Box 13109
Denver, CO 80201