August 27th, 2014
Dr. Roberto Padilla Makes His Way Back Home
Dr. Roberto Padila
NEWBURGH - Something inside of Roberto Padilla always told him he would return to the City of Newburgh. That inner voice was right on target. On July 1, 2014, Dr. Roberto Padilla officially began his position as the Newburgh Enlarged City School District Superintendent.
Padilla’s journey has seen a multitude of twists and turns, not paved with clear lines of success. A product of the Newburgh School District, he attended Temple Hill Elementery, South Junior High and Newburgh Free Academy. As a foster child, he relied upon the foster care system. His time out of school was often surrounded by scenes of poverty and violence. Some of his friends went to prison; others were murdered. Despite his “rocky and unstable” reality, he continually searched for answers, was inquisitive and pondered about his future. School was a safe haven, but not a place he took seriously until his sophomore year, when the switch was flipped.
“It was at that time that I realized I could have gone down the same path as some of my friends, but I wanted something different, something more,” reflected Padilla. “I was very fortunate to have a guidance counselor and some coaches to support me.”
That assistance led Padilla to a college education. Having enjoyed working with children as a youth, he chose education as his major. After teaching sixth and seventh grades in Hells Kitchen, the ambitious Padilla earned his Master’s Degree in administration from Fordham University. Soon other doors opened; the opportunities to join teams aimed at turning around schools in the Bronx and Harlem. When the Newburgh position surfaced, it only felt natural to apply.
“I always said I would return to and give back to where I grew up,” said Padilla.
His collaborative successes in New York City Schools, along with exposure to administrators all over the country practicing innovative strategies, combined to form the vision Padilla is now hoping will propel Newburgh Schools into a brighter future.
“Through the work of all, we will achieve inclusive excellence,” affirmed Padilla. “That excellence is not a destination but a process that will include all, inspiring students to be leaders beyond Academy Field.”
For now, as the 2014-15 school year is set to open, Padilla is focused on more immediate goals, specifically Culture 3. He explains it as building a district culture, improving the community, collaborating stake holders, while building synergy and inspiring. Steps to get there include; better job communication, restoring job dignity to the profession, involving parents and being present. A need to celebrate and recognize people doing wonderful, innovative things is also in order.
And while all this is happening, Padilla intends to be right on the front lines. Describing himself as relentless, gritty, innovative and not scared of hard work or change, he is quick to cite a motto he lives by.
“You can only expect what you inspect.” said Padilla, who also details visionary and problem solver among his strengths.
That inspection is leading to rising expectations. They are hopes that are leaving the new Superintendent, who is intent on honing the patience and balance he brings to the table, with some further inquiry.
“Why not someone from Newburgh to be the next President or person to solve the next big epidemic?” challenges Padilla.”We need leaders beyond Academy Field, and we need to do our part to make sure that happens.”