Claudia Aguirre, Principal/New Leaders Graduate
- What is your current role and professional history?
I am currently the principal of Dual Language Middle School, 03 M247, where I began my teaching career in 1994. I became the principal in 2003 after experiencing a revolving door of school leadership caused by a succession of five different school leaders over four years and watching the school fall apart.
- What is exceptional leadership?
Exceptional leadership is consistently doing the right thing no matter how difficult it may be. It can often involve making difficult and unpopular decisions such as differentiating between nice teachers and effective teachers. Exceptional leadership requires making decisions that are in the best interest of the children we are serving instead of what may be easier for adults. Exceptional school leaders measure their effectiveness by what the teachers and students they lead are able to do as a result of their leadership.
- Why do you believe your role as a school principal is a critical lever to student achievement?
Strong and effective leadership is a critical lever to student achievement. A school leader’s primary responsibility is to create and sustain an environment where all community members are working at capacity to ensure that every minute of the instructional school day is used to maximize learning opportunities in order to enhance the academic outcomes of all students. As a principal, I am charged with selecting teachers who understand the sense of urgency that this work requires and believe that every student is entitled to and deserving of receiving the highest quality instruction they can offer each and every day. It is also my responsibility to allocate resources to provide teachers with the materials and time needed to plan and implement high quality instruction.
- Why did you choose New Leaders? How has the program impacted you as a leader? When I decided to prepare myself to become a school leader, I was seeking a leadership development program that would do more than provide me with the academic skill set and basic certification required for the position. I needed a program that embodied my core belief that all children are entitled to receive a high quality education that will enable them to become contributing members of our society. Using this lens, New Leaders provided with me the opportunity to develop my leadership skill set through high quality professional development, intensive course work that pushed my thinking across every aspect of the competencies I needed to effectively lead a school, and a residency experience shadowing a veteran principal in a high performing school. Almost ten years later, I am still committed to actively participating in the New Leaders community as I have found that each interaction continues to push my professional learning and provide me with opportunities to further develop my professional capacity to meet the needs of the teachers and students with whom I am fortunate to work.