Building teacher leadership is at the top of Principal Omar Duron’s to-do list at Southwest Junior High School in San Luis, Arizona. The district partners with the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET), and Duron embraced the rubric and collaborative practices of NIET’s TAP System for Teacher and Student Advancement. He started in the classroom, then served as both a mentor and a master teacher before becoming the professional development coordinator for Gadsden Elementary School District #32. In that role, Duron led the district’s team of master teachers while providing ongoing support for master and mentor teachers. Described as data-driven, methodical, reflective, organized and a strong role model for teachers and students, Duron strives to secure the resources his Southwest school community needs to succeed. Virtually all Southwest students deal with poverty, and half are migrants and/or English language learners (ELL). Defying stereotypes, student achievement has risen steadily for the past five years. A Stanford University study showed that the district outpaced peers and ranked in the top 10% of the nation for growth.
Now in his third year at Southwest, Duron spends most of the instructional day visiting classrooms and knows every student by name. Raised in the community and a product of Gadsden schools, Duron knows firsthand the challenges and obstacles that his students must overcome to live productive and fruitful lives. He builds relationships centered around student need and is passionate about advancing policies to support migrant and ELL students. All children, he reminds his team, deserve an equitable opportunity to learn and grow academically.
Duron brings unique learning opportunities to Southwest that help students flourish. They take ACT preparation classes during the summer and practice creative problem-solving through Odyssey of the Mind. Before Duron took over as principal, the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY) recognized Southwest as one of the top 10 schools in the world for supporting the development of academically advanced students. Duron has continued the CTY partnership, through which about 30 students each year engage in advanced academic programs.
Duron earned a bachelor’s in elementary education in 2004 and a master’s in administration in 2016 from Northern Arizona University. He is pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership.
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