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Superintendent's News

Posted: July 1, 2020

Thoughts on the First Day

Interim Superintendent Scott Elder's first message to employees

On my first day as your Interim Superintendent, I want to share some of my immediate hopes for Albuquerque Public Schools. It is an honor to step into this position at this extraordinary moment in time. Despite the challenges that lie ahead, I couldn't be more excited or hopeful.

Anyone who has been in public education for a while -- and I've been doing this work for nearly three decades -- knows that change is inevitable. As educators, we get comfortable with uncertainty and take control of the things we can to move our students forward. Advancing their academic lives is especially complicated now as we find ourselves in the middle of a global pandemic, in the throes of civil unrest, and on the cusp of a budget crisis. 

The public consensus is that health and safety are paramount for everyone accessing our schools in the coming weeks. APS has teams of experts in a wide range of areas who are investing countless days planning for various reentry scenarios. The New Mexico Public Education Department last week released guidelines for reentry, so our focus now is on tailoring those mandates to accommodate the unique needs of individual schools and student populations.

As we move forward, we need to continue to operate with grace and kindness, keeping in mind how recent events may be affecting our students, their families, our co-workers.  We need to find ways to make them feel safe as we reopen schools, and we need to do it together, even as we are socially distancing and often working apart.  

I began my APS career nearly 30 years ago, teaching students whose native language wasn't English. In no time I knew public education was my thing -- I loved being around students and enjoyed the energy of schools. After years of teaching, I became a principal, first at McKinley Middle School, and then the Career Enrichment Center, Highland, and Sandia high schools. And while I loved my time at each of these diverse campuses, my experience affirmed what I always knew -- that hatred, vitriol, and racism are real.

Conversations about race relations are difficult, but they need to happen. One of my top priorities as the Interim Superintendent is to have these difficult discussions and to make changes that will help all students feel acknowledged, respected, dignified, and successful no matter their skin color, religion, sexual preference, or disability.

As we prepare for the coming school year, you will be hearing more about budget constraints facing the district. The economic toll of the coronavirus takes us back to painstaking days of budget cuts, now with the extra expense of operating schools in a COVID-19 setting. We will have to make sacrifices. Again, we will figure this out together. 

Our immediate future comes with uncertainty, but also many opportunities and plenty of promise. Over the years, I have gotten to know the APS community pretty well, and if there's one thing I am certain about, it is that we are visionaries. No matter the circumstances or the difficulties ahead, we know why we're here, and we always do our best for the students we serve.

I look forward to continuing that mission, together.  

Scott Elder, Interim Superintendent
Albuquerque Public Schools