Monday July 11, 2016

‘Leadership Matters’ in Choosing OKCPS Leader

Leadership matters. It matters for our community and for our kids. It matters for Oklahoma City Public Schools, and Superintendent Aurora Lora is the right leader to take the district to a new level. She has the credentials and the chops to lead OKCPS with continuity that is sorely needed in a school district that has seen 10 different superintendents in the past 15 years.

Lora graduated from the University of Texas, after attending a low income high school in El Paso, where she graduated as valedictorian. When she turned in her first college paper in English class, her professor tore it up, asking where she had learned to write like that. Her first thought was that she wasn’t good enough and couldn’t make it. Then she said to herself, “Watch me” and went on to graduate with honors, after finding tutors and extra help through her early years of college.

Superintendent Lora began her career in education as a Teach for America teacher. She taught in an inner-city Houston school with high poverty and under performing students. The principal she worked for told her to feel lucky if she got 70 percent of her students to pass testing at the end of the year. Aurora heard that and said, “Watch me.” One hundred percent of her students passed. She decided at that point that education was her calling and learned that leadership and education reform was where she could use her strengths to make a difference.

Lora earned her Master’s Degree in Education Management and Policy from Harvard University. She went on to become a principal and founded a low income all-girls school. She was assistant superintendent in two districts, both in urban areas with demographics similar to Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City Public Schools has a 5-year strategic plan with clearly defined and measurable goals. It is called The Great Commitment and was developed as part of a community wide effort to prioritize what is most important as measurements for our students. One of the signature strategies calls for effective teachers, leaders and staff. As in any organization, the vision must come from the top and must be clearly defined and communicated to all constituents.

Superintendent Lora has a clear vision — it is to keep the best interest of our students in mind, all the time. She is a collaborator and believes everyone in all parts of our community have a right to be heard. Being a superintendent is a difficult job anywhere, but in an urban environment, the challenges can be daunting. Aurora Lora is committed to making Oklahoma City her home and she is up to the difficult job ahead. She may say, “Watch me,” but what the community must remember is that schools cannot do it alone. We must do more than watch … we must actively engage and be part of the solution. Congratulations, Superintendent Lora. The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools is here for you, as is this community.


Read Mary Mélon’s article on The Oklahoman here:

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