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Superintendent News

July 1, 2020

Elder Announces Changes to District Leadership Team

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July 1, 2020

Thoughts on the First Day

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July 1, 2020

Scott Elder Takes the Reins at APS

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Superintendent Scott Elder

After leading Albuquerque Public Schools as interim superintendent through months of the global pandemic, Scott Elder was promoted to the permanented position by the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education on Monday, March 15, 2021. 

Scott Elder OfficialScott Elder was the Albuquerque Public Schools Chief Operations Officer when New Mexico closed its public schools in March 2020 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Working alongside then-Superintendent Raquel Reedy for several months before taking the reins as Interim Superintendent on July 1, 2020, Elder helped the district transition from in-person to remote learning. He and his team made sure students had the technical equipment and internet support they needed to learn at home, assured that they were fed, put in school safety measures in anticipation for their return, worked with community partners to provides services to families, ushered in virus testing protocols and then vaccination opportunities for staff, and developed several learning models that would allow some and then all students to head back to the classroom.

In addition to navigating APS through the pandemic, Elder has committed to making APS classrooms culturally and linguistically responsive. Under his guidance, the district rolled out a new equity plan that outlines a dozen steps to achieving racial and education equity and reducing barriers for students and parents. This includes more culturally responsive instruction, improved hiring practices, better resource allocation and access, improved school climates, and anti-racism training for staff. 

Elder has worked with a shrinking budget, finding the balance between being good stewards of taxpayer dollars and making sure funding is intact for instruction, health and safety measures.

The third-generation New Mexican began his APS career more than three decades ago as a substitute teacher. He rose through the ranks as a high school teacher, middle and high school principal, Chief Operations Officer, and Interim Superintendent before being named Superintendent on March 15, 2021. 

Elder uses words like honest, open-minded, decisive, and collaborative to describe his leadership style. As the head of an urban-suburban-rural school district with nearly 75,000 students and 12,000 full-time employees, those attributes serve him well.

Elder is well-prepared for the challenges he faces, having learned early on as a teacher of English learners at one of the district’s poorest high schools just how flexible and creative you need to be in public education.

“No two students are alike, so no two years or days or even classes are alike. Sure, we have our plans and routines, but we also have to know how to turn on a dime," he said. "I can’t tell you how many times as a teacher, I had to scrap a lesson, change my approach, adapt to accommodate my students.”

That need for flexibility and creativity became even more evident when Elder was a principal, whether at McKinley Middle School, the Career Enrichment Center, Highland or Sandia high schools. “I was constantly putting out unexpected fires, fixing unimaginable problems, dealing with unforeseen issues.”

In two decades as a school and then district administrator, Elder has dealt with policy changes, budget shortfalls, the threat of school violence, suicide, testing, the effects of poverty and homelessness and abuse, leaky roofs, flooded classrooms, social upheaval, immigration and refugees, language barriers, learning and emotional disabilities, teacher shortages, mental illness. His experience, knowledge, and compassion prepared him to lead the nation’s 34th largest school district, in which two-thirds of its students qualify for free or reduced-price meals, 19 percent are in special education, and 17 percent are English language learners.

Elder’s five years as Chief Operations Officer for a district that spans 1,200 square miles with 13 million square feet of instructional space in 143 schools have provided him with invaluable insight into how things run. During his time as COO, Elder oversaw APS Police, athletics, maintenance and operations, facilities design and construction, student transportation, food and nutrition, and more.

The native New Mexican’s ties to Albuquerque are invaluable as he serves as a pillar of the community. Elder’s family has a long history with APS: his mother worked for the district for 20 years, his grandfather was a school board member off and on from 1945 through 1969, and his understanding is that his great-grandfather was also a board member, starting in 1892.

Elder’s wife of 27 years, Deborah Elder, is a longtime educator, and his two sons, Sam and David, are graduates of APS' Sandia High School. 

Elder is a graduate of the University of New Mexico, where he earned bachelor’s degrees in political science and Spanish, and master’s degrees in secondary education and business administration.

Elder replaces Raquel Reedy, who retired on June 30, 2020, after serving for more than four decades as an APS educator, the last five as superintendent.