At His Top-Performing School, All Are Expected to Take on Leadership Roles

Article excerpt

For C.E. Rose Principal Stephen Trejo, leadership comes naturally.

The 52-year-old has held leadership positions going back to his childhood - serving in the Boy Scouts, in high school as the captain of sports teams and in student government.

Most recently, Trejo has spent the last decade leading the teachers and students of Rose PreK-8 - a south-side campus that was once labeled failing but has since been hailed as being among the best urban schools in the country.

Trejo attributes his success to his ability to not only lead, but to cultivate leadership in both his teachers and students so they embrace taking responsibility for themselves and for their achievement.

Now, the longtime educator is receiving yet another accolade - the 2013 Rodel Exemplary Principal Award, which recognizes principals who inspire their staffs to contribute to schoolwide success and develop a campus that is high-achieving, safe, orderly and welcoming.

The school, which serves nearly 700 students, is so welcoming that it had to expand from an elementary school to a K-8 because parents did not want to send their children elsewhere.

Nominated by TUSD Superintendent John Pedicone, Trejo is one of two Tucson-area principals selected for the Rodel honor.

The Rodel Award comes with a cash prize of $3,500 and the opportunity to mentor Rodel Aspiring Principals.

"He is just really an effective leader," Pedicone said. "When you go in to that school, you're going in to the best school anywhere - that's the feeling that you get at C.E. Rose. Steve creates that spirit and that culture, and that doesn't happen by accident."

Not only does it not happen by accident, it is not expected to happen in a high-poverty neighborhood like that surrounding C.E. Rose, 710 W. Michigan Drive, where more than 93 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch.

But Trejo has never been one to back away from a challenge. …