Jose Huerta

State and City of Residence:
Whittier, CA

Job Description: 
Currently LAUSD Local District Superintendent, Formerly Teacher, High School Principal

Why do you work in education? 
I really believe that education is the most rewarding occupation one can have. In education you have the distinct opportunity to prepare our youth to be successful citizens and future leaders. Throughout my educational career, both as a student and as a professional, teachers have been very influential in my life. They have been my role models and life coaches. As far back as I can remember, my mission/goal has been to teach and to instill in our youth the value of a good education.

Tell us about something that you have done in education (either alone or working with a group) that you feel has made or will make a big difference for your community? 
As the Principal at Garfield HS (LAUSD/ 2010 -2015) the greatest accomplishments included:

  • Suspension rates went from an average of 600 per year to 0
  • Graduation rate went from 51% to 88%(second highest in our district).
  • Academic Performance Index (API) went from 597 to 714 points
  • Over 96% of our seniors (graduation class of 590) attend a college or university
  • In 2013, 27 students were accepted to UCLA (best acceptance record of all California high schools)

Garfield High School has converted to a true college going campus where all students are achieving at record levels. All this was accomplished despite the fact that 96% of our students qualify for a free or reduced lunch. 

What’s your favorite part about being an America Achieves Fellow?
The best thing about being an America Achieves Fellow for me has been the support I have received from good/intelligent people from all over our great nation. Being a Fellow allowed me to travel and learn from the brightest minds in the educational field. I owe a lot of my professional successes to the learning and networking I experienced as an America Achieves Fellow. 

If you could change just one thing about our current education system, what would it be?
The one thing I would change in education is the "fixed mindset" that unfortunately still exists in many schools. As educators, we really need to set higher expectations for all of our students and truly believe they can achieve academic success regardless of their diverse backgrounds. Only then can we make a difference in the future of America.

Anything else you’d like to share?
I am proud to say that after 25 years in education I was recently appointed as the new Local District East Superintendent for the Los Angeles Unified School District.

If a song played every time you walked into a room, what would that song be?
Lean on Me by Bill Withers

What’s the best thing a student ever said to you?
"Thank you for believing in me"

What’s your dream vacation?
Fishing for Halibut and Salmon in Alaska.

What is one fun fact that most people don’t know about you?
I'm a prankster!

What is your other favorite thing to do (besides education, or course!)?
I enjoy the following: - reading - fishing - cooking

Who is your biggest inspiration?
My inspiration is my wife. She has always been there to support me throughout my career. She listens to my concerns, provides advice and is always there for me. 

What is one book every educator must read?
Good to Great by Jim Collins

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