Two years ago, Eric Acosta-Verprauskus told his wife he was interviewing for a job as principal at Verde Elementary. The school had a reputation as an incredibly tough place to work. The last four principals had lasted an average of less than two years. “All the terrible things you hear about rough public schools were true here,” says Mr. Acosta-Verprauskus.

His wife’s reaction was atypical, but then they are hardly a typical couple. Originally from Kansas, Katherine Acosta-Verprauskus (pronounced vur – PRASS -cuss) dropped out of her UC Santa Barbara doctoral program to teach at a struggling school in Richmond. The two met there and completed the prestigious New Leaders for New Schools principal training program. She is now a principal at Montalvin Manor Elementary School on the other side of town.

“This is the opportunity,” she said. “Go for it.”

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