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Superintendent's News

Posted: May 24, 2024

The Best Job in the World

In his final weekly message, outgoing Superintendent Scott Elder reflects on his 33-year career at APS and bids farewell.

Superintendent Scott Elder

Superintendent Scott Elder

Some people know they want to teach at a young age. That wasn’t my journey.

Truth be told, it was happenstance and a nudge from my father that landed me in the classroom as a substitute teacher more than three decades ago. While subbing at Highland High School, I learned that the school’s debate team needed a coach. I volunteered, got a thumbs up, and set out to help the kids on that team improve. Working with those students and helping them grow was an amazing experience that gave me a window into what I wanted to do with my life.   

However I got here, I am incredibly grateful because being an educator and making a difference in kids’ lives has been the best job in the world!

When most people hear my name, they probably think about my four-year tenure as the superintendent of Albuquerque Public Schools. APS has actually been my home for 33 years.

I ended up spending about 14 years at Highland, followed by stints at Eldorado High, McKinley Middle, Early College Academy, and Sandia High. I loved every school I was at.

I haven’t forgotten what it means to be a teacher or the impact they have on students’ lives. I firmly believe there’s a special place in heaven for middle school educators. And I know that being a principal is difficult but gratifying work.

While principal at Sandia in 2016, then-Superintendent Raquel Reedy asked me to step into the position of Chief Operating Officer after Ruben Hendrickson passed away. I took the job, and, again, learned a great deal. A few years later, when I was tapped to lead the district as interim superintendent, it felt like everything I learned the previous 30 years came together: how to deal with politics, understanding instruction, knowing who to talk to.

Leading APS has been an honor, one that has afforded me amazing opportunities. I’ve loved interacting with students, participating in readathons and spelling bees, and speaking at the state Student Council conference. I’ve met interesting people, from governors, senators, and mayors to community members and grassroots people just trying to make a difference in their community. And I’ve worked with colleagues at the national level on the best path forward for improving outcomes for our students.

So what’s next for me?

I’m fascinated by the possibilities generative artificial intelligence presents, and I’ll be working with others to explore ways to use AI in the classroom to benefit students. I’m excited about what the future holds but sad to be saying goodbye to this place that has been such a big part of my identity for most of my adult life.

Someone recently asked me if I have any regrets. I smiled and pointed out that there are always regrets. I tend to regret the things I didn’t do, opportunities I missed because I prioritized incorrectly. I don’t regret my career path.

I’m incredibly proud of the difference I’ve made in students’ lives and am thrilled every time a former student walks up to me to tell me how. I’m proud of the Herculean job we did transitioning to remote learning in the midst of a global pandemic. I’m proud that I stepped up every time I was asked. And I’m proud that I had the opportunity to run the school district in the city where I was born and raised.

I’m so incredibly grateful for the 33-year journey that’s brought me here, and for the remarkable colleagues who have walked with me on this path. Never forget how much our work matters. Never get so tied up in bureaucracy and paperwork that you forget how lucky we are to be surrounded by young people or that we’re making a difference. That goes for everyone from our teachers and bus drivers to our principals and central office staff.

To our students, never doubt your ability to be brave and to do amazing things. Push back against anyone who says you can’t. I am amazed by the talent I’ve seen at APS, from our spectacular bands and speech and debate teams to esports, athletics, and the performing arts. Our kids are incredible!

Thank you to everyone I’ve worked with over the years in our shared mission to help our kids grow, and thank you to all of our students who have enriched my life. 

I’m a better person because of the career I chose!