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January 2024 - Paulina Lerma-Banuelos

Colorado Association of Latino/a Administrators and Superintendents LA LUZ DE LIDERAZO - A MEMBERSHIP SPOTLIGHT January 2024

May 2023 - Jesse Tijerina

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 Paulina Lerma-Banuelos, Manager of Activities, Denver Public Schools. Paulina shares her professional career and current bio below. You can read the diverse experiences that have led to her various leadership roles. One of our shining stars!

Career Highlights & Education

Paulina Lerma-Banuelos is the Manager of Activities at Denver Public Schools in Denver, Colorado. She is an educator and a Latina leader committed to her student's success and academic achievement. She has developed a strong educational and instructional equity foundation that supports students, teachers, and the community. Mrs. Lerma-Banuelos is a teacher-scholar, earning a Master’s of Arts in Curriculum, Instruction, & Teaching, emphasizing Culturally & Linguistically Diverse Education at the University of Denver in 2015. In 2022 she obtained a certificate in the Educational Leadership & Policy Studies (ELPS) program and received her Colorado principal licensure through the Ritchie program. In 2023 she was nominated one of the finalists for the Colorado Department of Education Colorado Teacher of the Year. She is currently a doctoral student at the University of Denver in the ELPS program.

What is exciting about my job? The most exciting aspects of my job are that I get to be a part of strategic planning and collaborative efforts to elevate our district's celebration, recognition, and empowerment of the identity, culture, and excellence of our affinity groups. Being part of such a transformative initiative brings me a sense of nostalgia, as it resonates with my own experiences growing up as a person of color. I wished for recognition, celebration, empowerment and opportunities to have a voice. I wanted to feel like I belonged in my community. I have been a part of creating events like the banquets and awards ceremonies for the Black Student Alliance, the Latino Student Alliance, and the LGBTQ+ Alliance that have never been done before. I am extremely honored to have contributed to these important accomplishments. What I love most about my job is making sure that both students and teachers have opportunities to discover and develop their unique skills and leadership potential. I love seeing how collaboration can bring us together, and how we can truly make a difference in students' experience and empower them to be the best version of themselves. Words from a consejero/a: Nikos Kazantzakis said “True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own” Mi consejo es, let’s be bridges, not gatekeepers, let’s invite them and include them, let’s encourage them to have a voice, let’s inspire them, let’s work together, let’s be agents of change. Advice you would give a new superintendent or school leader: My advice for a superintendent or school administrator is formed with a passionate commitment to social justice and equity. I recommend that these principles be included into decision-making, policies, and resource allocation. Promote the inclusion of diverse perspectives, solicit and incorporate the input of individuals from marginalized communities, mandate inclusive curriculum improvements, allocate resources towards cultural competency training, and establish transparent systems of accountability. Foster a genuinely equitable educational environment that calls for consistent community engagement and an unfailing commitment to continuous self-reflection.

If you catch me outside the office, you’ll find . . . You will find me on the sidelines of a soccer game, with a book in my hand, still managing to yell at the refs! I love spending quality time with my family, traveling around the world, walking my dogs, and enjoying the sunny days. How does CO-ALAS add value? CO-ALAS has been a game-changer for my career, opening doors to incredible opportunities and valuable perspectives. This organization has been essential in expanding my network and developing partnerships with exceptional colleagues, who I now consider my hermanas and hermanos. CO-ALAS has provided me with a platform for profound experiences, and I had the honor of being a part of cohort 2 of the National Principal Leadership Academy. Being a member of CO-ALAS has been essential for my professional development, providing a supportive environment that prioritizes collaborative learning. I've had the privilege of hearing my fellow members' experiences, and listening to their stories not only inspires me but also encourages me to continue being a leader and part of positive change. Through collaboration, resource-sharing, and mentoring, CO-ALAS' dedication to amplifying the voices of leaders of color in education adds tremendous value. This network not only improves my leadership skills but also broadens my view, making it easier for me to make a difference in the constantly changing world of education. CO-ALAS is a network of incredible professional leaders that have become my family.


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