March 2019 - Dr. Patricia Hurrieta

Colorado Association of Latino/a Administrators and Superintendents

March 2019

Welcome to the CO ALAS Membership Spotlight.  Each month we 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 Dr. Patricia Hurrieta, Principal, Grant Ranch K-8 School, Denver Public Schools.

Career Highlights & Education
I began working for my district at the age of 14 and have worked in a variety of capacities providing me with a unique and varied perspective. I began as part of the custodial staff at 14 at my middle school, I was a paraprofessional while in college, and a bilingual teacher as well as a reading teacher after graduation. Having more to offer and wanting to have a greater impact I became an instructional coach while completing the Ritche Program for School Leaders at the University of Denver.  Subsequently, I have been in various leadership roles: as an assistant principal, school principal, and then the executive director of the DPS’s Culture, Equity and Leadership Team (CELT). However, I really missed serving students and their families directly and so I returned to school leadership at one of the most challenging schools in southwest Denver (Grant Ranch K-8). One of my passions lies in turning around underperforming schools.

What is exciting about my job?
Making a difference in the lives of children every day. At the time I assumed this current role, the school was not meeting expectations and school culture was chaotic. Families were fleeing from the school because of inconsistent leadership. There had been four principals in the year prior to my arrival. I love implementing the change that it takes to move a school forward. The most exciting part of my job is watching the staff and students come together as a family. We serve students from the age of three up to fourteen and watching them work together is so rewarding.

Words from a consejero/a:
Do what you love! When you no longer find it fulfilling it’s time to find another way to have an impact. It was a bold move to return to school leadership from an executive director position. Many people told me not to for a variety of reasons. To be true to myself, I had to return to a school because that was where I had left my heart.

My second piece of advice lies in the words of Don Miguel Ruiz and the Four Agreements (1997). Be impeccable to your word. Don’t take anything personally. Don’t’ make assumptions. Always do your best. The hardest one for me is not taking things personally. It is my hard work and passion and I need to remember the same about others. They are speaking from their point of view – not attacking me personally.

What advice would you give a new superintendent or school leader?
Know your people! When you understand a variety of viewpoints you can make better decisions. And speaking of decisions – be clear how the decisions will be made. If you ask for input, be clear how it will be used. People want to know if they are influencing the decision or are making the decision. When the decision-making process is unclear, they often feel misled.

If you catch me outside the office, you’ll find . . .
Me cooking for my family! I don’t get to as often as I would like so we all gather to eat together every Sunday.

How does CO-ALAS add value?
Value is added as development and support group that meets the needs of Latino/a aspiring and current leaders in education by providing professional development and networking opportunities. I remember walking into my first ALAS conference and thinking – wow! Look at all the people who look like me! Superintendents with doctorates. It spurred me to obtain an educational doctorate in Educational, Leadership and Policy Studies at a school I never thought I would be able to attend, a university that I drove by daily on my way to my job at Safeway when I was right out of high school. Thirty years later I am an graduate with a terminal degree. It would not have happened without that inspiration!

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