Ron Salazar had a dream. He wanted to become a school principal.
As he grew up, he kept his dream at the forefront of his mind, continuing to believe that someday it would come true.
His dedication and focus have paid off in more ways than he ever expected, Salazar said. He has been a principal for 17 years and was recently chosen as the outstanding administrative employee of the year by the Adams 12 Hispanic Advisory Council.
“I was surprised by the award. I tend to be a pretty humble person, so knowing I was nominated by one of my teachers was special,” Salazar said. “It was not expected, but it was a nice justification of the things we are doing here as a staff.”
The Hispanic Advisory Council was formed to help Adams 12 Five Star Schools create pathways of success for Hispanic students. Each year the council hosts an awards ceremony honoring Hispanic students and staff. This year’s event was on May 1.
Lillian Gutierrez, chairperson for the council, said there were a multitude of reasons that Salazar was chosen as the administrative employee of the year, including the work he’s done for the past two years in a “challenging” school.
“Many of the students at Federal Heights Elementary are English-language learners, with many needing reduced-rate lunches, yet he manages to keep the staff interested in doing their very best,” she said. “He encourages the staff by doing the work himself and making sure everybody knows that the kids are the most important thing.”
This Salazar’s 17th year in the district. Before coming to Federal Heights Elementary, he was an assistant principal at Silver Hills Middle School. He said his roots in Adams 12 run deep: his wife teaches in the district, and all of his children grew up in the district. He said he has worked hard, but the many teachers, coaches and administrators who have supported him over the years also deserve credit for his success.
“Many people helped me get to where I am today, and because of that I wanted to give back and really teach kids that the good they do now will come back to them in the future,” he said. “I want kids to have the opportunities I had and tell them that is doesn’t matter what race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status you are. You can be successful if you put the effort into it.”
Although Salazar received the award, he credits the honor to his staff, of whom he said he couldn’t be more proud. Every day students walk into school with a smile and leave with a smile because of the collective efforts and work of the staff, Salazar said.
Even though teaching can be exhausting, he said, his teachers are dedicated to creating a warm, happy place for students, always putting the children before themselves.
“I normally think I’m a pretty pragmatic guy, but I also know that where we are going, we are changing a ton of lives,” he said. “I have never seen a staff be so supportive of the kids; they love them as their own. Next year will be even better, and the year after that.”