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NUSD Supt. and Coronado Principal Honored

Nogales Unified School District Superintendent Fernando Parra was selected as the Outstanding Superintendent of the Year and Francisco Vasquez de Coronado Principal Sandra Jimenez the Outstanding Principal of the Year by the Arizona Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (AZALAS).

Parra and Jimenez were honored at the 2019 Annual AZALAS Conference, entitled Change for the Future; Cultivating and Empowering Culturally Responsive Leaders, held Nov. 3 and 4 in Tucson. AZALAS president Dr. Gabriel Trujillo, superintendent of Tucson Unified School District, said a committee reviewed numerous submissions and selected Supt. Parra and Principal Jimenez, which he called “a well-deserved honor.”

Sandra Jimenez and Fernando Parra

Currently, over 45 percent of public school children in Arizona are Hispanic and, at the same time, less than 15 percent of the administrators are Hispanic, Trujillo noted. AZALAS’s focus is on meeting the needs of Hispanic superintendents, school administrators, and aspiring school leaders. “We are committed to providing pertinent professional development, quality communications, and unlimited opportunities for peer support and networking,” the overview on their website stated.
AZALAS Secretary Rosanna Rico, superintendent of the Continental Elementary School District, read from Parra’s nomination packet.  Here is a portion of that nomination:

“Fernando Parra was born and raised in Ambos Nogales and has a special pride and passion for his leadership work in education.  He has been in the field of education for 28 years, serving in different capacities.  NUSD serves a predominately Latino/Hispanic student population of 99%.  As a result, all of Mr. Parra’s efforts, initiatives, and programs are focused on improving Latino students’ academics and opportunities.  He embraces the bilingual, bicultural and bi-literacy that students bring and views them as a strength rather than a weakness.  Mr. Parra is an excellent leader who promotes inclusion and diversity.” 

Rico added, “The evidence of Mr. Parra’s outstanding leadership is that NUSD students defy the odds by graduating and attending top schools such as Harvard, Stanford, Notre Dame, MIT, Columbia, and Georgia Tech to name a few. He has improved opportunities by leading the district to become part of the Pima County JTED.  His effectiveness is also evidenced by the 98% graduation rate at Nogales High School, the increasing numbers of IB Diploma candidates and diploma recipients, and by Coronado Elementary School being recognized as an A+ School of Excellence. Mr. Parra is truly deserving of this prestigious recognition.” 

Rico also read the following from Principal Jimenez’s nomination: “There is ample evidence of the significant impact that Sandra Jimenez has upon the school community in Nogales. Coronado Elementary School has a reported capacity of 493 but an actual enrollment of 521 students, 97.31% of which are Hispanic and almost 65% of which qualify for free or reduced lunch. Coronado has earned Results-Based funding for the last two years. This past spring, Coronado earned the distinct honor of being named a 2019 A+ School of Excellence by the Arizona Educational Foundation. The award, based upon a “comprehensive school assessment program”, recognizes only those outstanding schools that demonstrate excellence in the areas of teaching, learning, climate, community building, and school leadership.

Additionally, under Ms. Jimenez’s leadership, Coronado has earned an “A” Letter Grade each year during her principalship. Ms. Jimenez is clearly an exceptional, but very humble, principal who not only leads her school to high levels of academic achievement but also actively provides assistance to the principals and staff of other schools to support their pursuit of increased academic achievement and student success.”

Another NUSD leader, Aissa Bonillas, principal of Mary M. Welty Elementary School, was selected to be on a panel entitled Latinas in the Principal’s Office.

Aissa Bonillas

The panel discussed how they implement equity and their personal journeys in becoming school leaders as Latina women.