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Assistant Director of Adult and Continuing Education Saida Valdez says she sees herself in her students, who want to make a better life for their children.
Valdez supports students of all ages
October 3, 2022
ACSA Administrators of the Year graphic.
Name: Saida Valdez, Ed.D. Award: Adult Education Administrator of the Year Title: Assistant Director of Adult and Continuing Education, Azusa Adult Education Center, Azusa USD ACSA highlights: Member since 2003
Saida Valdez began her career in education as a kindergarten teacher. Since then, she’s worked her way through the education spectrum, serving as principals in both elementary and middle schools before she became an adult education administrator. Her experience has taught her that a positive and collaborative school culture — for students of any age — is key to success.
Valdez’s knowledge of school programming and her policy of open communication have garnered trust and respect from school staff, students and community members alike. When handling a specific situation or problem, her colleagues say she successfully leads her staff in analyzing data and planning a solution that incorporates multiple perspectives.
“Her feedback is timely, to the point and always supportive,” said Yvette Walker, principal of Slauson Middle School. “With all employees, she is quick to recognize the positive and provides opportunities for growth and support via formal and candid feedback.”
What’s your favorite book or quote on leadership? There is a children’s book titled, “Thank You Mr. Falker,” written by Patricia Polacco. The book is an autobiographical account of the author, who struggled with reading and felt like a “dummy” until her 5th grade teacher recognized her dyslexia and intervened to help her overcome her reading disability. This book reminds me that as educators we have the great ability through high expectations, perseverance, determination and kindness to make a difference in the lives of our students and their families.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? I realize that I have been very fortunate to have great mentors who have dedicated themselves to causes larger than themselves who, without their knowing, contributed to my educational leadership. Corey James taught me one of the greatest ethics lessons for school administration: When making a decision, never compromise your integrity. Cynthia Cervantes-McGuire demonstrated to me that a great leader should have a passion for serving others with grace, kindness and honesty. Dr. Richard Malfatti gave me the insight that as educators, we are in the people business, and relationships are everything. We can only earn the trust and confidence of our students, parents and colleagues by forming a meaningful relationship with them. And from Dr. Jon McNeil, I learned that educational leadership focused on academic rigor, innovation and service leadership can serve as a springboard to make a difference in the lives of others.
What are some life hacks that you would recommend for a new administrator? As you begin your administrative career, you need to have two things in place: 1) You need to know your “why;” and 2) you need to have a strategy to “recharge” your motivation.
There will be days or incidents that will have you asking yourself, “Why did I choose to become an administrator?” And that is when you have to know your “why” — your purpose based on your values as to why you work as hard as you do every day. However, coupled with knowing your “why” is also how to re-motivate yourself when you are questioning your “why.” For me, I walk into a classroom and sit there for 15 minutes just observing our teachers and students. Sitting in the classroom reminds me of the joy of teaching and learning and that as educators we have the very important privilege and responsibility of educating other people’s children, and we must honor and not breach that trust.
What made you want to become a school administrator? When I made the transition from a classroom teacher to an administrator, I expanded what I call “my sphere of influence.” I am a proud Mexican American Latina born to parents who immigrated to this country from Zacatecas, Mexico, with the sole purpose of providing a “better life” to the children they were going to have. As an elementary principal, a middle school principal, and as assistant director of adult education, when I walk throughout the campus and our classrooms, I see myself in our students. They are the immigrant parents or the children of immigrant parents, who also want “better” for their children. And as an educational leader, it is my passion and my commitment to make certain our students receive the best education every day.
.2022 Adult Education Administrator of the Year Saida Valdez
2022 Adult Education Administrator of the Year Saida Valdez.