Sophia Acevedo is described as a forward-thinker, clear communicator, capacity builder, and promoter of hope and resiliency. As the first principal of Calder Road Elementary School, she has led the school to become an exemplary achievement gap closing school since 2010. Calder Road is a Title I elementary school serving a diverse student population in grades prekindergarten to fourth grade. Calder Road Elementary is home to several special programs, including a successful dual language program that serves English language learners. Through local outreach programs and active involvement in the community, Principal Acevedo ensures that the school is an inclusive campus that represents the different backgrounds and the diversity of all its students.
Principal Acevedo leads with a positive vision that instills a sense of security and confidence, and an environment of risk-taking. Her vision and the school’s mission guide her daily practices. She is determined that each staff member will empower and educate every student to make decisions that reflect exemplary character and build proficiency and excellence in all academic subjects. This belief is evident in her hiring practices, professional development opportunities, assessment models, and overall operational focus. Everyone at CRES is viewed and treated as a leader.
Since Calder Road has a dual language program, Principal Acevedo insists all classes focus on using language effectively in reading, writing, and math. Being bilingual herself, Principal Acevedo is passionate about children’s language acquisition. Teachers model academic language when speaking, there are clear visuals in each classroom with content and language objectives, and the staff ensure that all classrooms are a language rich environment. Teachers differentiate instruction to meet individual student needs, and you will hear students talking and writing about their learning throughout the hallways.
Principal Acevedo knows that leadership should be shared, and she strongly believes in building leadership in the people around her. In fact, she often uses the quote by Ronald Reagan, “surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere.” She models expected behaviors and ensures teams have the tools, structures, and systems needed to guide and support the work.
During Principal Acevedo’s term, the school has faced unprecedented challenges, including Hurricane Harvey which flooded 80% of the community’s homes and businesses in 2017, two rezoning initiatives due to overcrowding, and now the pandemic. Within days of the COVID-19 closure, Calder Road developed a plan, communicated with parents, and began delivering remote instruction and services. Since January 2021, 98% of Calder Road Elementary students have received face-to-face instruction. The high percentage of students on campus is the result of strong leadership, caring teachers, and parent trust and confidence.
One of Principal Acevedo’s defining characteristics is her ability to view the school challenges as puzzles to be solved, not problems to be admired. She is open to adjustments that create the optimal learning environment for students. She looks for ways to modify staffing, schedules, resources, and professional development to ensure that teachers are receiving everything required to meet the needs of their students. Principal Acevedo uses flexible scheduling and staffing to provide professional development for teachers throughout the school day. The scheduling provides time for daily character lessons for students, tutorials for Tier 2 and Tier 3 students, and extended enrichment activities for all students.
Through the years, Calder Road has transformed from a team-based school to a schoolwide professional learning community. This is due to Principal Acevedo’s continuous focus on building capacity throughout the staff. She aligns all campus learning to the academic needs of students. Teachers are charged with analyzing grade level and individual student achievement data and coming up with innovate ways to accelerate learning and enrich the curriculum. Under her guidance, teacher and instructional specialists develop targeted plans with incremental goals for student growth. Data is reviewed consistently and plans are adjusted based upon the analysis. Principal Acevedo reinforces flexibility and the importance of ensuring that resources and personnel are positioned to accelerate student achievement. She embodies the belief that there are “no excuses” in terms of student success. Teachers and staff know that they are empowered to do whatever is necessary to ensure academic excellence.
Sophia Acevedo is a champion for students and teachers. She is a resilient educational leader who has guided her school community through extremely challenging situations. She continuously “walks the talk,” and actively involves all stakeholders. She is considered a beacon for continuous improvement and collaborative systems.