New Leader Has Plans for Major Transformation

When Eric Acosta-Verprauskus became principal of Verde Elementary School, he made a commitment to deliver high-quality academic results for all 325 students.

Eric knew it would be a tremendous challenge. Verde consistently ranked among the lowest-performing schools in the district and in the state of California. 100% of students are eligible for federal assistance for school lunches, and 75% of the K-6 students are English Language Learners. About one in ten students is learning at grade level.

When Eric started at Verde, he quickly realized he had a hard-working team of teachers deeply committed to students. They knew Verde students were capable of doing so much more!

An Early Commitment to Public Schools

Eric grew up in a coal-mining town in Pennsylvania, the son and grandson of coal miners. He was no stranger to poverty, and he knew parents depended on public schools to develop the knowledge and personal strength necessary for their children to succeed.

This is what first drove Eric to commit to a career in education, and to a school like Verde Elementary, where he knew school could change his students’ lives.

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Pathway to Leadership

Eric began his career through Teach For America at Lincoln Elementary School in Richmond, where he was recognized as the district’s “Teacher of the Year.” He then participated in New Leaders, a school leadership pathway that provides training and administrative credentials to exceptional educators at no cost to the individual.

Changes at Verde Elementary

As a brand-new principal, Eric first focused on improving the climate at Verde to make students, staff and families feel welcome and supported. He encouraged students and teachers to embrace the joys of learning. He also prioritized developing, supporting and retaining highly effective teachers.

As part of his vision, Eric led his team in the implementation of professional learning communities, using data to drive instruction and building a positive school culture.

Lasting change at the school will take time, but the evidence suggests a renaissance has begun. Through Eric’s encouragement and leadership, students strive toward the new motto at Verde Elementary: “Think You Can, Work Hard, Get Smart, Be Nice.”