November 2017 - Tracy Gallegos

Colorado Association of Latino/a Administrators and Superintendents

 
LA LUZ DE LIDERAZO - A MEMBERSHOP SPOTLIGHT
November 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 are doing and what’s on their mind.

This month we are featuring Tracy Gallegos, Director for the Migrant Education Program for the West Central Region of Colorado.

Career Highlights & Education
I graduated from a rural high school on the Western Slope of Colorado with a bit of a chip on my shoulder.  Though I excelled in both academics and athletics, I had a very little encouragement from my high school teachers and guidance counselors to pursue higher education.  I believe this was because I belonged to a peer group of Latino students that struggled to find social acceptance in an extremely tight-knit, conservative farm town. In fact, out of my group of friends, only three of us graduated High School and I was the only one to move on to pursue post-secondary education.

Once I got there, I was determined to take advantage of my university experience.  I attended the University of Northern Colorado where I earned a degree in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Bilingual & Bicultural Education. I decided to pursue a career that would allow me to empower the youth, so that I can be in a position to encourage all students, not just the ones that fit the social norms.   As an undergraduate, I joined a non-profit organization called The Colorado Association for Bilingual Education (CABE) and served as a student representative on the board of directors. This led me to my first teaching job in Aurora, Colorado where I spent the first 8 years of my career working at Fletcher Elementary School.  At Fletcher, I held several roles from a classroom teacher to a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) helping with discipline & parent engagement.  During this time, I earned my graduate degree in Educational Leadership at the University of Denver.  After that, I decided to move back to the Western Slope so that I could advocate for students that grew up in a similar situation as I did.  I worked 9 years as an Assistant Principal at West Middle School in Mesa County before taking my current position as a Regional Director for the Migrant Education Program.

What is so exciting about my job?
Migratory agricultural work is one of the most important jobs that exist.  This work ensures that all of us can eat!  It is also one of the most labor intensive, health compromising, and lowest paying jobs in our country.  Because of the demands of this type of employment, children of Migrant families often need academic support in schools and advocacy in our communities.  I cannot think of a better way to use my energy, talent and professional skill then to coordinate these efforts in my region of Colorado.   In addition, to me it is a personal sense of duty.  My grandfather was a migratory worker and traveled all over the state of Colorado working agricultural fields, orchards and timber.  When his family became too large to move around (he had 14 children), he settled and worked seasonal work on the Western Slope.  He raised his family in a migrant housing facility with no running water until they were able to get a small house to live in.  My father and his siblings all helped in the orchards as they were growing up.  Today, I am proud to continue the family tradition of working in agriculture, even if the role is a little different.

Words from a consejero.
I have been fortunate to have some outstanding mentors in my life.  They have all taught me about the power of relationships.  I have learned that we must take the necessary time to foster strong relationships.  The key to successful collaboration with colleagues, staff and students is by developing relationships with them.  Once a strong relationship is established, you will be able to accomplish so much more and you will probably find more joy along the journey!  I am so thankful my mentors took the time to build a strong relationship with me and help me along my career path.

Advice you would give a new superintendent or school leader?
Take time to speak to all the stakeholders and really listen to what is important to them.  This will allow you to see where you have common ground and help you prioritize the changes that you will bringing to the organization.

If you catch me outside the office, you’ll find . . .
I enjoy spending time with my wife, Danielle, and our two sons Julian, and Emilio.  We like to hike, bike, ski, and enjoy the beautiful surroundings that Western Colorado has to offer.  In addition to this, I like to make music and spend time working in my garden and playing golf.    

How does CO ALAS add value?
CO-ALAS is a very important organization and I am proud to be part of it.  It is a network of passionate, highly skilled and professional educators all putting their energy towards improving the educational experience for our students of color and for all students.  One of the most beneficial parts of being a member is that it ensures that I stay connected with so many talented people across the state.  Furthermore, CO-ALAS focuses on the most important issues that affect Latino students in Colorado.  I see it as the avenue that we as educational leaders must use to make sure we are advocating for the students we serve in the most powerful way we can. 

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.

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CO-ALAS
PO Box 13109
Denver, CO 80201
info@co-alas.org

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