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Navigating the path to educational leadership at DSST

Victoria Cruz's journey to becoming a school leader at DSST Public Schools wasn't exactly what she had envisioned for her career, but it turned out to be a transformative experience that she cherishes deeply.

Cruz said she “never pictured myself as being a school leader,” but her perspective changed drastically when she immersed herself in the Advanced Leader Cohort (ALC) in 2021. During her time in the program, she has embraced the opportunities provided to her before advancing to the School Director in Training program. 

"I very quickly fell in love with the capacity for influence and development of other educators," Cruz said. “I have found the community of these spaces to be profoundly vulnerable, eye-opening and intentional. I have met outstanding leaders and visionaries who ignite my own passion for this work because we get the opportunity to work and grow together.”

DSST's approach to career growth sets it apart from other educational institutions. Cruz highlighted the emphasis on a culture of feedback as one of the key differences.

"I don’t have to question the gaps within my own leadership skills," she said. "This type of transparency allows me to receive targeted support and stretch opportunities and be an active participant in my own development."

Feeling supported and prepared has been integral to Cruz's effectiveness in her work. "There have been so many DSST leaders who have seen the potential in me way before I believed in the potential in myself," she shared. "Having someone deeply believe in me allowed me to feel comfortable with taking risks and making upward growth."

The opportunities provided by DSST's pipeline have left a lasting impact on Cruz. "Joining ALC felt like the perfect opportunity to get to know myself within this work, build confidence and feel supported by a cohort and community of people who wanted me to do well and were also going to be real with me about my growth areas."

As Cruz continues her journey in educational leadership, her experience serves as a testament to the power of mentorship, community and self-belief in shaping the leaders of tomorrow.