APS' First Chief Academic Officer to Retire
After 35 years in public education, Linda Sink is ready to try something new.
August 16, 2012
Linda Sink started her career as a teacher in a developmental classroom where students on a vocational track were placed because they weren’t “college material.” Refusing to buy into the label, Sink used the same biology lessons with her students as the more advanced classes. And her students succeeded.
That experience influenced Sink’s 35-year career as an educator. “I really pushed hard to remove barriers that were keeping students from succeeding and achieving their dreams,” Sink said.
Sink will retire this week after a long career that took her from the classroom to the principal’s office to the sixth floor of City Centre as Albuquerque Public Schools' first Chief Academic Officer.
Her career was celebrated during the Board of Education meeting on Aug. 15, where students, teachers, parents and colleagues thanked her for her contributions to the district. She said she was especially touched by those who said she gave them hope; who said she gave them back their dignity.
Sink has spent her career tearing down barriers and opening doors. She fought against tracking and labels, removed obstacles that kept students from taking higher-level classes, worked to improve and personalize curriculum for special education students, advocated for continuing education for educators, and fought to modernize and improve the way teachers teach.
“We need to remember what we’re here to do – to help kids be successful, to get them the education they deserve so they can move on and reach their potential,” Sink said. “Every student who walks through the door is special. It’s our job to help them find their passion.”
Just as Sink fought against labeling students, she said she is frustrated by the current trend to label schools. “When I started my career in 1977, we were labeling kids, and then we realized that was so bad for them. But now we’re labeling schools. How’s that different? We need to support our schools, our teachers, so they can be good at what they do.”
Back in 1977, Sink was a science teacher at Albuquerque High, where she also served as a drill team coach, activities director, assistant principal and principal. She also was an assistant principal at Eldorado High and principal at Cibola High.
She became associate superintendent for instruction in 2007 and served as the interim superintendent before being named chief academic officer.
Two years ago, while still serving as chief academic officer, Sink put on a second hat and stepped in as interim principal at Rio Grande High School. She is credited with helping fix a scheduling debacle, improving the image and morale at the school, and getting students back on track to graduate on time.
“I actually considered staying at Rio Grande,” she confessed. “I fell in love with those kids, those families. I saw how much potential they have if they just get the support they need.”
Sink gives credit to many who have supported her over the years. From department heads to middle management to support staff to custodians, she said she recognizes that educating the next generation takes a team effort.
Though she has had a successful career, Sink said she realized it was time to move on, perhaps as a college teacher, a small town superintendent or a representative for an education-based business. “I’ve done this for 35 years. It’s time to try something new.”
Her advice to those who will follow in her footsteps: “Treat people with dignity and respect, and don’t forget what we’re here to do. It’s not for power or a paycheck or for summer vacation. We’re here to help the next generation reach their potential.”