I am pleased to announce the selection of veteran educator Ron Cabrera as interim superintendent of Denver Public Schools. Dr. Cabrera, who began his teaching career at Denver North High School in 1979, will spend the next several weeks with Superintendent Tom Boasberg before formally taking over as interim superintendent after Boasberg’s last day on Oct. 19. He will then serve as the district’s leader until the appointment of the permanent superintendent.
Experience at every level
Many of you know Ron, who has spent nearly 40 years as a teacher, school leader, administrator and superintendent in DPS and in districts throughout the metro area. His work has largely centered on equity for kids and, most recently, he has supported our team members who are implementing culturally responsive education in our classrooms. Ron taught at North and Morey Middle School before becoming an assistant principal at Centennial Elementary and then principal at Stedman Elementary.
By then, word about Ron’s talent had spread and he was recruited to become a principal in Douglas County. He went on to serve as director of curriculum and instruction in Commerce City; deputy superintendent in Westminster; superintendent in Loveland; and Boulder High School principal and assistant superintendent for instructional leadership and equity for the Boulder Valley School District.
As his time allowed and particularly after his retirement from Boulder in June 2017, Ron has continued supporting DPS both as a leadership coach and in lending his expertise to key district efforts. This includes serving as interim associate chief of academics and innovation as well as supporting our culturally responsive education efforts this past spring. In particular, Ron has worked with our instructional superintendents on putting these efforts into practice in our schools.
Focus on equity
Ron shared that his parents are native Spanish speakers who immigrated to the United States. Growing up mostly in California, where his father was a professor, Ron said conversation around the dinner table often focused on civil rights and frequently included his aunt and uncle, who worked with César Chávez as organizers for the United Farm Workers Movement.
“I grew up with that, and that has never left me,” he said of his belief in equity. “At the end of the day, our society does better when everyone does better.”
As a young DPS educator, Ron joined the Congress of Hispanic Educators and he was an inaugural winner of the Jerry & Camilla Sandoval Fellowship supporting graduate work for DPS employees. Paul Sandoval, the former state senator for whom the Paul Sandoval Campus in Far Northeast Denver is named, created the fellowship in honor of his parents.
“I love learning, and I love seeing others learn,” Ron said. “To me, that’s the heart of our work as educators — how do we help kids, all kids, keep their curiosity throughout school?”
Recent honors for Ron’s equity work include being named the Boulder YWCA “Champion of the Year” in 2015 for anti-racism work and the Boulder Open Door Foundation’s 2016 Change Maker Award for supporting transgender and gender non-conforming students.
“My core values are respect and dignity for all students and families, and my moral purpose is closing the achievement gap. It is a great honor to do this work for Denver,” Ron said of his decision to serve as interim superintendent.
Continuing the search
My fellow board members and I are deeply grateful to have Ron’s expertise and close knowledge of DPS in the interim role as we move forward with our search. (It was important to the board to choose an interim superintendent who was not interested in the permanent role, and Ron shared that he has nine other priorities who need his long-term attention — his nine grandchildren.)
If you have not yet done so, I encourage you to share your thoughts on our superintendent search by attending one of our community meetings, emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting supersearch.dpsk12.org to sign up for email updates or to read the latest news.
We have scheduled an application deadline of Oct. 15 for interested candidates, followed by interviews. We anticipate announcing the finalist(s) Nov. 26 and naming the new superintendent Dec. 10.
Please welcome Ron in his new role as we move forward in our district transition. We have a lot of work to do and we know Ron, whose core values align so closely with ours, will keep us moving forward.
Thank you for all you do every day to support Denver’s kids — and our future.
President, Denver Board of Education