Scott Borba is ACSA’s Superintendent/Principal of the Year.
Borba has ‘laser-like’ approach to leadership
September 20, 2021
Name: Scott Borba Award: Superintendent/Principal of the Year Title: Superintendent/Principal, Le Grand Elementary School, Le Grand Union ESD ACSA highlights: Member since 2006; Vice President of Legislative Action for ACSA Region 7 in 2013; president of Elementary Education Council, 2013-2016
Before Scott Borba’s first day as superintendent/principal for Le Grand Union Elementary School District in Merced, he presented a five- to seven-year roadmap for the district entitled “Big Ideas.” For each of his “big ideas,” he set a completion date and then worked to build a leadership team of teachers, classified staff and administrators who could achieve the goals.
Borba’s focus is on identifying root causes for low student achievement. While leading his team through “plan, do, study, act” cycles, he demonstrated a “laser-like precision,” such as when he increased the number of advanced-math-eligible English Learners, which stood at zero percent. Now 20 percent of EL students are able to take the classes.
Adam Shasky, board president of the school district, said Borba has succeeded in taking charge of a district in a “tiny farming community in the Central Valley with a high percentage of students fitting into the unduplicated category.”
“Mr. Borba is committed to providing access to the world outside of Le Grand to his scholars,” Shasky said. “He started a STEAM lab, robotics team, e-sports team and incorporated computer science into the K-6 curriculum in order to increase student exposure to technology and help give them access to an ever-growing career field.”
What’s your favorite book or quote on leadership? My favorite book on leadership is “Wooden on Leadership” by legendary basketball coach John Wooden. I have incorporated the lessons into my leadership as well as shared his “Pyramid of Success” with my leadership teams. The way he not only embraced the idea of lifelong learning, but instilled it into his players is so inspiring. Coach Wooden left a legacy of excellence, dedication, hard work, discipline and commitment. I hope I can accomplish just a fraction of what he did as a school leader.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? “When you do what’s best for kids, you can’t lose.” One of my mentors, Dave Garcia, superintendent of Empire Union School District, would share this with his team. He lived this idea and inspired all of us to do the same.
What’s your best strategy for work/life balance? You have to be intentional about keeping your life in balance. I know I am replaceable as a school leader, but I also know I am irreplaceable as a husband and a father. This idea really hits home for me, especially as the father of younger children. I’m a better worker when I know I’m also meeting the needs of my family.
What are some life hacks that you would recommend for a new administrator? Schedule everything! Invest the time over the summer to plan out your entire school year month-to-month and add everything to your calendar. Reserve at least half of your day for connecting with people on your campus and in your community through classroom walkthroughs, yard supervision, greeting families before/after school or hosting community hospitality events. School leadership is so relational; don’t let yourself get bogged down by the administrative duties.
What would people be surprised to learn about you? Do you mean like do I have webbed feet or an 11th toe or something? No, there’s nothing surprising about me.
What made you want to become a school administrator? I love the profession of education and especially the impact we have as teachers. I believe that we are literally saving lives every single day. As a classroom teacher, I experienced this impact on a classroom level, and I wanted more. I wanted to connect with more students and support and inspire more teachers so they too could have the life-saving impact that I believe we have. Now, as superintendent/principal of Le Grand Elementary, I see that I can have a positive impact on an entire community.
How has ACSA supported you in your career/current position? ACSA has been instrumental in my career. I learned very early in my administrative career that the more I got involved in ACSA, the better the leader I became. I have learned so much from my involvement with the Elementary Education Council and the network of elementary leaders, many of whom I would now consider friends. I have also learned how pivotal our voices are in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., through my involvement with the ACSA Governmental Relations team. I’ve experienced first-hand how our lawmakers will listen, having attended numerous Legislative Action Days as well as federal advocacy trips with NAESP and ACSA. It is comforting to know I can pick up my phone or send a quick email to any number of colleagues in California when faced with a problem I might not have the answer to or just to seek advice from.
What has the impact of the COVID-19 worldwide health crisis taught you? The COVID-19 crisis has taught me that educators are the most flexible group of people on the planet. Our job descriptions changed over the span of a week from superintendent to public health official, from principal to distance learning organizer, from classroom teacher to YouTube streamer, from cafeteria worker to takeout/delivery worker and from custodian to sanitation specialist. Most of us in education were caught in the middle between public health guidance and our communities. There were a lot of difficult decisions that had to be made. Speaking for the folks I know in small districts up and down the state and here in my county, I believe we crushed it because we never stopped doing what was best for our kids. I guess you could say that was pretty inspirational as well.
Scott Borba is ACSA’s Superintendent/Principal of the Year.
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