Return to Headlines

Austin High administrator named Region 19 Secondary Assistant Principal of the Year

Ruenna Valdez

(AUSTIN HIGH SCHOOL -- July 8, 2021) -- Ruenna Valdez’s path to being named the Region 19 Secondary Assistant Principal of the Year started in South-Central El Paso where the Jefferson High School alumna began her education and her professional career.

Valdez has spent her academic and professional careers in EPISD, and she credits the work done here with her recent recognition from the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals as the top high-school assistant principal in West Texas.

“I feel proud to be just a regular girl from south-central El Paso representing the region doing one of the most rewarding and selfless jobs in the field,” said Valdez “It is a huge honor for me. I have many amazing colleagues that I have been blessed to know and work with within this district that inspire me every day.”

One of these colleagues being her elementary school principal, Leon Smith, who offered her first teaching position after recognizing her as a former Cooley Elementary School student while at a New Mexico State University job fair. 

It was an EPISD Empowerment Zone Scholarship that helped Valdez continue her education with a full-ride to NMSU, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D in Educational Leadership at the University of Texas at El Paso.

After teaching for six years at Powell and Hawkins elementary schools, Valdez served as an instructional leader and was offered the opportunity to serve as Cobra Tech Director at Canyon Hills. 

In 2019, she was promoted to high school assistant principal at Austin High School, where she has enjoyed overseeing some of the important milestones in students’ lives. 

“My fondest memory every year has to be graduation,” she said. “I think seeing students share that moment of triumph truly gives you the best feeling in the world.”

Valdez will represent the region in the 2021 Texas Assistant Principal of the Year.

“Public education provides consistency to so many individuals that need it in their life. It’s important for me to ensure students are able to grow and help them become leaders that can manage in a difficult world filled with challenges.” 

She spends her free time giving back to the community by serving on the Canutillo ISD PTA, District Advisory and Campus Improvement Committees, the UTEP Graduate Student Assembly and the Texas Council of Women School Executives - El Paso Chapter.

As a born and raised El Pasoan, Valdez is proud to call the Sun City home. 

“I love how I can look outside my window and see the mountains and take a bike ride or walk down by the river,” she said “I love how kind everyone is. El Paso is a diamond.”

Story by Liliana Gonzalez
Photos by Leonel Monroy