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Principal Roberto Carrillo ensures students in his Juvenile Court and Community Schools programs have what they need to succeed.
Carrillo inspires staff to serve ‘at promise’ students
September 19, 2022
ACSA Administrators of the Year graphic.
Name: Roberto Carrillo Award: Continuation/Educational Options Administrator of the Year Title: Principal, Juvenile Court and Community Schools (South/East Region), San Diego COE ACSA highlights: Member since 2010; Educational Options Council (2011-2014); CTE Committee (2014-15); Equity Committee (2018-19).
As a principal supervising several small alternative community schools in San Diego County, Roberto Carrillo works for students who were often not successful in traditional school settings. Thanks to his charismatic leadership and focus on equity, students are making dramatic changes in their lives and finding brighter futures through education. Carrillo is committed to ensuring all students receive the resources they need to be successful. He meets regularly with staff to administer a Multi-Tiered System of Supports that reaches students before they reach a crisis point. He ensures a high functioning, safe and effective learning environment for students, which has resulted in Carrillo’s programs having statistically lower suspension rates, higher attendance, and fewer incidents of vandalism since his arrival in 2018. He rallies others to greatness with one of his favorite catchphrases: “All leaders are learners! When you stop learning you stop leading.” Staff are encouraged to reach higher to serve their “at promise” students through professional learning communities and other opportunities Carrillo shares in a weekly inspirational e-mail bulletin. Unafraid to accept high-profile leadership challenges, in March 2021 Carrillo became project lead for the federal unaccompanied minor program at the San Diego Convention Center. In just a week’s time, Carrillo mobilized and inspired others to create an educational experience for 1,400 refugee/unaccompanied children ages 5-18 who did not speak English. For many, this was their first time in a school setting. “The honor, dignity and genuine care woven into the instructional program was the key to ensuring that each child who came into the United States through this program felt safe, welcomed and cared for,” said Gloria Elena Ciriza, assistant superintendent of Student Services and Programs. “As a result of Mr. Carrillo’s leadership, thousands of young people, new to our county, were not only able to see the beauty of San Diego during a very difficult time in their lives, but felt the warmth and the kindness of the American people.”
What’s your favorite book or quote on leadership? “We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community ... Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.” — Cesar Chavez What’s your best strategy for work/life balance? Be as passionate about your life activities as you are about your work. What are some life hacks that you would recommend for a new administrator? You need to be about it not just talk about it. Serving students, parents and staff at every level will gain you lots of respect. During lunch, throw away students’ lunch as they finish. Support parents at the local community events after hours and support staff by subbing for them so they can collaborate with another colleague. Attend a training or meet with a parent. What would people be surprised to learn about you? That I am an active member in a lowrider club and that we participate in community events as often as possible. What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome to get where you are? Unfortunately, in my path I have come across people who find it hard to believe that I am an administrator. Yet after engaging in courageous conversations, we have been able to break many of those biases. What is your proudest accomplishment? Serving the most underserved communities of every district I have worked with. For example, our amazing board and Superintendent Dr. Paul Gothold at SDCOE took on the task to develop the educational program for 3,500 unaccompanied minors here in San Diego County. I was given the opportunity to lead the program. As a team we developed such an amazing program, that it was used as the blueprint for other programs as needed! How has ACSA supported you in your career/current position? ACSA has helped me develop as a leader by providing me with mentorship, learning opportunities and the right to lead.
2022 Continuation/Educational Options Administrator of the Year Roberto Carrillo
2022 Continuation/Educational Options Administrator of the Year Roberto Carrillo