Pat Sánchez is being honored as a Latino Educator Champion of Change.
Nestled in the historic community of Commerce City and bisected by busy roadways and industry, Adams County School District 14 (Adams 14) is Colorado’s 26th largest school district, serving more than 7,500 students annually. In Adams 14, nearly 83% of students qualify for free and reduced lunch, nearly 87% of students are children of color, and nearly 60% of students are English Language Learners.
In advance of the 2012-13 school year, the Adams 14 Board of Education initiated the complete reconstruction of District administration in order to accelerate reform and improvement in this historically low-performing district. The Board selected me, a lifelong educator, as the new superintendent, based on my past performance in transforming inner city schools.
Because people support what they help create, my first order of business was to engage in regular communications with all District stakeholders – students, families, employees, and community members – in order to foster a climate and culture of mutual trust and respect.
This approach helps me address the disparities in Adams 14 that are preventing equity amongst our students. I believe that important discussions with our community partners will help us understand some of the challenges that our students are facing. That’s why I transformed Adams 14’s District Advisory Accountability Committee meetings from a dumping ground for negativity to a community platform where ideas, opportunities, and discussions about children are celebrated.
In Adams 14, I have tried to ensure that all students are provided culturally-responsive learning environments and are engaged through powerful instructional strategies that facilitate English-language acquisition. Now, our schools have a culture that is based on high expectations for all students and employees, combined with one that supports both academic and social growth for all students.
Today, there are undeniable, national academic disparities between students of different races and ethnicities. Adams 14 is boldly addressing these disparities that are preventing racial educational equity. I am committed to ensuring that race is no longer a predictor of academic success.
I initiated a Latino Parent Committee to engage a large proportion of Adams 14’s parent population that had been historically undeserved. I have worked tirelessly to empower all families and community members to become engaged partners in their child’s education by creating welcoming environments District-wide that reflect and support a culturally diverse population.
A substantial piece of my overall leadership message is the critical importance of creating a paradigm shift in the way we think about our children – and how it is essential to view our children as assets. With this attitude, I’m confident that we will continue educating children of all backgrounds, preparing them to succeed regardless of where they come from.
Pat Sánchez is Superintendent of Adams County School District 14 in Colorado.