Eugene superintendent Gustavo Balderas was named the 2020 National Superintendent of the Year at the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) on February 13th at its national conference in San Diego. Balderas has been the district superintendent since 2015 and is serving as the 23rd superintendent.
During his career, he has put forward a multitude of programs to help increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in Eugene schools. This includes improving equity and cultural proficiency in the state’s K–12 instruction through the Oregon Leadership Network and the Oregon State Action for Educational Leadership Project, and developing equity systems around instruction, student behavior, and hiring practices.
He is a founding member and past president of the Oregon Association of Latino Administrators, and currently serves as the northwest regional representative and treasurer for the National Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents. While accepting the award, Balderas reflected upon his background and educational experiences that lead him to his present success, as “a proud son of a migrant family from Piedras Negras, Coahuila, México” and “a proud product of our public school system.”
Oregon school districts have a long history of being recognized nationally for their achievements. This is the third time an Oregon superintendent has won this particular award in the last 13 years. North Clackamas superintendent Matt Utterback was named in 2017, and Krista Parent, then superintendent of South Lane, won in 2007. A $10,000 college scholarship will be presented in the name of the 2020 AASA National Superintendent of the Year to a student in the high school from which the superintendent graduated, or the school now serving the same area.
“It is truly an honor to serve in the role of superintendent of Eugene public schools. I am blessed to be in my community,” Balderas said. “Seeing that kids are succeeding because of the changes we’re making [is what]drives me. We, as leaders, need to be champions for our profession. Education is the backbone to our democracy.”