Mary Rose Peralta, 2012 Administrator of the Year (ACSA Region 18) Awardee – Middle Grades Principal Category

THE largest umbrella organization for school leaders in America, the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) is made up of more than 16,000 school leaders. One of ACSA’s priorities is to ensure that school leaders are recognized for their excellence. Thus, each year, a handful of educators are honored for outstanding job performance based on their experience, demonstrated leadership and success in promoting student achievement.

This year, out of nearly 1,000 educational leaders from ACSA Region 18, which encompasses San Diego and Imperial Counties, a Filipino-American was honored and given the 2012 Administrator of the Year Award in the Middle Grades Principal Category.

Belonging to the Sweetwater Union High School District, Mary Rose Peralta, Principal of Granger Junior High has been named 2012 Administrator of the Year, Middle Grades Principal Category, by the Association of California School Administrators.

Dr. Edward Brand, Superintendent of the Sweetwater Union High School District, said: Mary Rose Peralta is a standout school leader who is making a difference in children’s lives everyday by channeling her “passion and vision to create dynamic school environments where students are challenged to achieve their potential.”

Family and education

Belonging to a family of educators, Mary Rose was born and raised in Manila, Philippines. Her parents, Macario Kasilag Peralta III and Zenaida Lontok Peralta owned a computer school in the Philippines, the Peralta Data Processing & Tutorial Center. It was one of the first computer schools in Manila.

Mary Rose went to St. Theresa’s College, receiving the “Outstanding Student” award during her high school graduation. She took up Comparative Literature with an emphasis in European Literature from the University of the Philippines, where she graduated Cum Laude.

She immigrated to the US in 1988. She earned two Master’s Degrees in Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Administration from National University in San Diego, CA. She graduated “with Distinction” upon earning her second master’s degree.

Mary Rose has been a teacher since 1989. Since 2009, she has been the Principal at Granger Junior High School in National City, California, after serving as Coordinator of Academic Support for the district and as assistant principal in several Sweetwater schools. She holds the distinction of being the only immigrant Filipino principal in the school district. Her school, Granger Junior High, has been nationally recognized as a California and National Schools To Watch-Taking Center Stage Model School for their work in narrowing the achievement gap.

A dedicated educator

Mary Rose takes pride in continuing the great work of the principals before her and maintaining the achievement levels at the school.

She has been credited for continuing to drive the school’s rising student achievement and earning the school numerous awards. In recognition of narrowing the achievement gap and meeting state and federal academic benchmarks, Granger was named a state and “National Schools to Watch–Taking Center Stage Model Middle School” in 2010 and a Star Honor Roll School by the California Business for Excellence in Education last year.

Because of the school’s success in improving academic performance and greatly narrowing the achievement gap, Granger was one of two middle schools chosen nationwide to address a hearing of the Congressional Committee on Achievement in Middle Schools.

As the school’s principal, Mary Rose led the school’s delegation to Washington in 2010 to receive the National Recognition Award at the National Schools to Watch Conference. They captivated national lawmakers when they told the story of Granger’s transformation from a failing to a model school at the Congressional Committee hearing.

Acclaimed for achievements

“The faculty, staff and students of Granger have worked hard to create a new school culture where success is the only option,” said then School Board President Arlie N. Ricasa in 2010. “Now the school is an example of excellence, and we couldn’t be more proud.”

In the Sweetwater Union High School District website, Peralta has been acclaimed for her achievements.

“Although Granger serves a high-needs student population–more than one in four students are English language learners and almost 80% qualify for the national free/reduced school lunch program–Ms. Peralta has cemented the vision that every child can succeed,” a feature in the website stated.

Since 2005, the school’s overall Academic Performance Index score has increased nearly 200 points and now stands at 817, exceeding the state’s 800-point target.

In her letter to parents of Granger students, Mary Rose said she is “committed to working with all of you in continuing the legacy of success that has become the culture at this school. By continuing to work together, we can succeed in fully realizing the “Greater Vision” plan for Granger, which includes ensuring all of our children promote ready for the rigors of high school and ultimately prepared for college and the career of their choice. It is my continuing goal to further refine the system that has been put in place, with your support, to help all students succeed by taking away all excuses to fail. At Granger, success is the only option.”


(LA Weekend April 28-May 1, 2012 Sec A pg. 10)

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