Rossi continues to give back in retirement
September 7, 2020
Judith Rossi said her desire to become a school administrator came from her discovery that she could truly have an impact on students and adults. “I learned that I could envision success as a leader to support the success of all students — more than the ones in my classes,” she said. “I realized that my influence and impact could be greater as a school administrator.” Rossi served in a variety of district leadership positions during her education career, including superintendent roles at Stony Creek Joint Unified School District in Elk Creek and Oroville Union High School District. She also served as an assistant superintendent at the Colusa County Office of Education, Butte County Office of Education in the early 1990s. She has been an active ACSA member for more than 20 years, serving as a Region 2 president, executive board member and was the recipient of the 2020 Region 2 Outstanding Woman Leader award. What is your favorite book on leadership? “Professional Learning Communities at Work” by Richard Dufour and Robert Eaker influenced my leadership to organize a school/district community of professionals to be student-centered and continuously improving. The three key principles of focus on learning, focus on collaboration, and focus on results were the foundation for my leadership endeavors. What is your favorite quote about leadership? “It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again … who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” President Theodore Roosevelt What is the best advice you’ve ever been given? Have thick skin. Stay the course and believe that all students can learn every minute every day.  What are the top five hacks that you would recommend for a new administrator? 1. Be an effective communicator: listen to understand and then provide leadership with understanding. 2. Be positive and assertive to develop the character and potential of each person on your staff to contribute toward a positive school/district culture. 3. Plan each action with the end in mind and be accountable. 4. Organize each day to do first things first. 5. Craft leadership strategies for continuous improvement of teaching and learning. What is the biggest challenge you have overcome to get where you are? The concept of valuing diversity has continued to be a challenge in progress. When I first started as a high school teacher, girls’ sports were beginning. Title IX (1972) became a foundation for a new era and continued increase in valuing diversity. Women were beginning to be employed more often in administrator positions. Equality in the workplace continues to be a challenge. Breaking the glass ceiling for women administrators continues to be a work in progress.    What are you most proud of accomplishing? I have a fantastic family with two children and seven grandchildren. I have accomplished 40 years of success as an educational leader with students at the center of my efforts every day. I currently serve as a volunteer WASC Chairperson and have done so since 1999. I served as a visiting committee member for several years prior to that. I thoroughly enjoy the accreditation process of continuous improvement and accountability. I continue to be inspired by school leaders and effective teachers striving to provide a successful learning experience for all students. Volunteering is very important to me — to give back. Who is someone who inspires you? My parents: Victor and Ellen Rossi. My parents were both WWII veterans, completed advanced degrees, raised five children, had undying faith, dedication, determination, strong personal character and integrity, and were lifelong teachers every day every minute. My father became a school administrator and my mother became a nurse and homemaker.  What is your pre-game ritual to get ready for a big meeting or presentation? Prepare in detail and visualize the event. Practice each element and consider what might not work. Be prepared — I learned that as a Girl Scout for 12 years. Make certain the facility is safe and comfortable and practice using the technology to be sure it works! What was the best ACSA event you’ve attended? Superintendents’ Symposiums for several years. These events always had the highest quality speakers and sessions that were timely and powerful. The networking was valuable and supported development for many lifelong friendships.   What has the impact of the COVID-19 worldwide health crisis taught you as an educator? It has taught me of the unlimited capacity of educational systems to meet the needs of all students regardless of the limitations. It has exacerbated the glaring need for equal access to high quality learning for all students and for each student to access the internet and have an up-to-date computer to use for learning at home and at school.
Judith Rossi, shown at left with her family, is ACSA’s Retired Administrator of the Year. She currently serves as a volunteer for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Name: Judith Rossi Award: Retired Administrator of the Year  ACSA highlights: member since 1998; state ACSA board member representing Region 2; President Region 2 Retired Leaders and Managers charter (2017-19).
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