After teaching social studies at Perry High School for six years, Eddie Diaz of Perry has accepted the position of principal at St. Patrick Catholic School in Perry. ThePerryNews.com caught up with Eddie and asked him a few questions about his new job and about what he has learned from his seven years in the U.S. Marine Corps and seven years as a teacher.
Diaz is the son of Mexican immigrants who settled first in California and later in Perry. Diaz was 16 when he came to Perry. He graduated from Perry High School in 1997, served in the Marines from 1998 to 2005, took a bachelor’s degree in political science from Iowa State University in 2005 and a master’s degree in education from Drake in 2009.
That is an impressive list of accomplishments for little more than a decade of adulthood, but Diaz was not finished. He took a second master’s degree from Drake last month, this time in educational administration.
Diaz will take up his new duties at St. Patrick School July 1. He knows the value of teamwork, as shown in a quotation he likes to use from the British naturalist Charles Darwin, who said, “In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.”
TPN: Congratulations on your new job, Eddie. What is your vision for St. Patrick Catholic School?
Diaz: Over the last two years as I worked to obtain my degree in educational leadership, I used St. Patrick School as the basis of several of my major projects. In one of my projects, I developed a mission and vision process that I plan on following during my first year as the principal at St. Patrick. My goal is to work with the students, staff, parents and community to build a shared vision for St. Patrick Catholic School. By building this shared vision, I hope to be able to align the actions that we take henceforth to it and provide updates on our progress.
TPN: What are some of the lessons you have learned in your time as a public school teacher?
Diaz: I have learned that working collaboratively is the best and most sustainable approach to progress, and I am fortunate that I am coming into a strong school community that has great staff and a strong source of support from the families and parish.
TPN: What sort of administrative style do you plan to use as a principal?
Diaz: I plan on being an instructional leader who visits the classroom on a regular basis so that I can learn how to best support the teachers and staff as they work to provide a quality education to our students.
TPN: Why have you left the Perry public school system after seven years to take this new direction?
Diaz: I graduated from Perry High School and left a good position in the Des Moines public schools to be able to come back and teach at my alma mater. Leaving Perry High School was hard because it was very rewarding to get to build relationships with some amazing people. It is amazing to see what some of the students that I have met are accomplishing in their lives, and I know there is much more they will pursue in the future. I got into teaching to be able to make a difference in the lives of others, and I hope I have done that for some people.
However, I feel that I am able to increase the level of impact I can make in the education of students by pursuing a leadership position. I chose to pursue this at St. Patrick for several reasons. First, I have learned that I am able to make a bigger impact in smaller locations. I first moved from California to Perry while in high school and realized the ripple effects a person can have in a community. I left DMPS to do the same at PHS, and now I think I can make a bigger impact in a small school like St. Patrick. Second, I feel that St. Patrick Catholic School offers a great amount of support that can help me be successful. We have committed staff, involved parents, and great students. Lastly, I have three children that will be attending St. Patrick Catholic school and I want to help make sure that all students at St. Pats receive a quality education that will help prepare them for their future. I am confident we can work together to make sure that happens.
Shortly after signing his contract with his new employer in late May, Diaz sent the following open letter to everyone associated with St. Patrick School:
Dear parents, students and friends:
It is an honor to introduce myself to you as the new principal at St. Patrick Catholic School. As a parent of a student at St. Patrick School, past school board member, and volunteer I have known for a long time what a special place our school is. Our school was dedicated in 1921 after a mother spent years organizing so that a Catholic school could be opened for her children to attend. Nora O’Malley demonstrated the important role that family can have in the education of children. Over the years I have seen this legacy alive and well at our school where many parents devote time, money and talents to help make sure that their children receive a quality education. It is for this reason that I decided to pursue the principal position at St. Pats.
My family first joined the St. Patrick parish in 1995 when we moved from California. Like the O’Malley family, my mom Ignacia, has been the leader of our family and brought me closer to my Catholic faith. I have been married to my wife, Angelica, for 10 years and together we are raising three beautiful children, Diego, Rebecca, and Sofia. My education consists of a Master’s in Educational leadership from Drake University in 2016 and a Master’s of Arts in Teaching from Drake University in 2009. I started as a classroom teacher in the Des Moines Public Schools and chose to return to teach at Perry high school where I have taught Economics, U.S. History, U.S. government and 5th grade math in the summer. While at Perry I have been the National Honor Society advisor, Mock trial assistant coach, and a teacher leader. I am passionate about education because I know first-hand the impact a quality education can have on a person’s future. My ultimate goal is to help your student receive a quality education.
My major initiative in my first year as principal will be to initiate conversations with school staff, students, and parents so that we can identify areas of strength and opportunities for growth. Together we will make a vision plan and build on those strengths as well as develop a system to address those opportunities for growth. With your help, I am very confident that the future is bright for St. Patrick Catholic School. Doug Latham, the teachers and staff at our school, and the school board have laid an excellent foundation that we can all build on.
I will get a work phone number and e-mail in July when I officially begin as principal, in the meantime, please feel free to contact me at 515-491-4186 or by e-mail email@example.com with any questions, comments, or concerns you may have. Estimados padres, estudiantes y amigos:
Es un gran honor presentarme como el Nuevo principal de la escuela católica St. Patrick. Como papa de un estudiante y voluntario para la escuela he visto lo especial que lo es nuestra escuela. La escuela fue fundada en 1921 después de años de esfuerzo por una mama la cual quería abrir una escuela Católica para que sus hijos pudieran atenderla. La señora Nora O’Malley nos demostró la importancia que la familia puede tener en la educación de los hijos. Todas las familias de St. Patrick dedican de su tiempo, dinero, y talentos para asegurar que los estudiantes reciban una buena educación. Es por esta razón que aplique para la posición de principal en St. Patrick Catholic School.
Mi familia ha sido miembro de la parroquia de San Patricio desde el año 1995 cuando nos mudamos del estado de California. Igual a la señora O’Malley, mi mama Ignacia ha sido la líder de nuestra familia e la persona que me ha guiado hacia mi fe católica. Mi esposa Angelica y yo tenemos 10 años de casados he estamos criando a tres maravillosos hijos, Diego, Rebecca, y Sofía. Me he graduado de la universidad de Drake con una Maestría en Liderazgo de Educación en el 2016. Empecé como maestro en el distrito de Des Moines y después decidí regresar a Perry donde he sido maestro de Economía, Historia de los Estados Unidos, Gobierno, y maestro de matemáticas de Quinto grado. Tengo mucha pasión para la educación porque he visto la importancia que la educación ha tenido en mi vida y la de mi familia. Mi meta es darle una buena educación ha su estudiante. Con su ayuda lo podemos lograr.
Lo primero que pienso hacer como principal de San Patricio es investigar cuales son nuestros áreas fuertes y los áreas donde podemos crecer como escuela. Con la ayuda de todas las familias estoy seguro que el futuro de St. Patrick es muy positivo. El principal Doug Latham y los maestros han hecho un trabajo excelente en poner un buen ejemplo y yo lo pienso seguir.
Empiezo a trabajar como principal en el mes de Julio pero si tiene alguna pregunta, comentario, o duda por favor comuníquese al 515-491-4186 o firstname.lastname@example.org.
Diaz’s appointment was made by the St. Patrick School Board of Directors and confirmed by the Diocesan leadership in Des Moines. Anne Marie Spellman of Perry chairs the board, and she was eager to share the good news with the community.
“We are very excited to have Mr. Diaz, a longtime resident of Perry and a St. Patrick Church parishioner, as our administrator for the 2016-2017 academic year,” Spellman said. “He has proven through his position at Perry High School to be an excellent educator. He is also active in our school as a parent, serving on the board the last few years to revamp the tuition process. The school board is looking forward to working with him to serve our school families, building on the exceptional academic and Catholic education students receive at St. Patrick School.”
Diaz lives in Perry with his wife, Angelica Diaz-Cardenas, and their three children, Diego, 7, Rebecca, 4, and Sophia, 3.
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