April 2019 - Mary Duran

Colorado Association of Latino/a Administrators and Superintendents

April 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 Mary Duran Principal, Park Lane Elementary School, Aurora Public Schools.

Career Highlights & Education

I was born and raised in Denver, Colorado and am a product of the public school system. I married my high school sweetheart, James Duran, at 18 years old and joined him to live on a military base. We had two children by the time we were 23 years old and I was a stay at home mom until my oldest was 10 years old.  When I married, many of my teachers shared their concern that I would lose my opportunity and passion to attend college. Although I was not a traditional college student and did not have the traditional college experience, I always knew I would get my degree.

I began my career 31 years ago, as an educational sign-language interpreter for Gateway High School in the Aurora Public School District.  After 12 years of working with deaf students, which I loved, I went back to school and obtained my BA with an emphasis in elementary education from Metropolitan State College.  I taught third and fourth grade students at Park Lane Elementary School for 7 years.

During that time, I became the Literacy Teacher Leader.  Working with teachers to improve their instruction led me to the decision to return to school for my Masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction at the Univeristy of Phoenix. As I supported teachers in developing their instructional practice in literacy and saw the impact their learning had on students, I knew I wanted to have a bigger impact school-wide.  I enrolled and completed a Leadership Program at the University of Denver and then moved into school administration.

I worked for five years as the assistant principal at Aurora Frontier K-8.  Six years ago, I was able to return to Park Lane Elementary School as the principal.  I was so excited and grateful to be returning to Park Lane, it felt like I was coming home.  It has been an honor to serve this community of families and students!

What is exciting about my job?
Every day I have an opportunity to work directly with and support teachers in creating a culture that allows us to have courageous conversations about race and equity. Through these conversations and professional learning, teachers have increased their use of culturally relevant practices to engage our student’s in equitable and rigorous learning experiences.  Walking into classrooms and observing the excitement of students and their conversations with their peers and teachers has been very rewarding!

Words from a consejero/a:
Know who you are and what you truly value and believe.  Be willing to have difficult, courageous and respectful conversations about race and equity and hold others and myself accountable for treating others with dignity and respect.

What advice would you give a new superintendent or school leader?
Find someone you trust and respect to mentor and support you, especially during your first year on the job. Be willing to ask questions when you don’t know or understand something.  Find a way to balance your work life and personal life so you don’t burn the candle at both ends.

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

You’ll find me spending time with my family, reading a good book, watching a movie or traveling!

How does CO-ALAS add value?
Co-ALAS provides opportunities for professional development and networking with colleagues across Colorado.  It meets the needs of Latino(a) leaders and aspiring leaders. It is important to have an organization that allows like-minded individuals to support one another while learning from each other.

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