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Superintendent's News

Posted: July 1, 2020

Scott Elder Takes the Reins at APS

The longtime teacher, principal, and district administrator is now the Interim Superintendent.

Scott Elder is the Interim Superintendent of Albuquerque Public Schools. The third-generation New Mexican began his APS career nearly three decades ago teaching students whose native language wasn't English. He rose through the ranks as a high school teacher, middle and high school principal, and Chief Operations Officer before becoming Interim Superintendent on July 1, 2020.

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 more than 80,000 students and 12,000 full-time employees, those attributes serve him well.

Elder took the reins at APS in the middle of a global pandemic, economic decline, and civil unrest. Fortunately, he is prepared for the challenges, having learned early on as a teacher of English language learners at a Title I high school 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. 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 142 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 26 years, Deborah Elder, is an APS administrator, and his two sons, Sam and David, are APS graduates.

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.