Patrick Arguelles: Embodying the Quintessential Ideal of a Principal
Patrick Arguelles
Patrick Arguelles

Principals play a crucial and multifaceted role in the successful functioning of educational institutions. Their responsibilities encompass a spectrum of domains, each vital for the school’s overall effectiveness. Firstly, they provide educational leadership by setting the school’s vision and aligning it with educational objectives. They are instrumental in shaping instructional practices, ensuring high-quality teaching, and fostering an environment conducive to learning.

Administratively, principals manage school operations, handling budgets, resources, scheduling, and compliance with educational standards. They also focus on student behavior, implementing disciplinary measures, and nurturing a positive school culture. Principals are dedicated to teacher development, offering guidance and fostering a culture of continuous growth.

Beyond the school, principals engage with the community and stakeholders, building partnerships and enhancing the school’s reputation. They advocate for student welfare, ensuring individual needs are met and are prepared to manage crises. Adherence to policies and advocating for educational improvements are also key components of their role.

Patrick Arguelles, the Principal of the Early College Academy, embodies the quintessential ideal of a principal, epitomizing excellence in educational leadership. His approach is marked by a visionary perspective, ensuring that the school’s direction aligns seamlessly with broader educational objectives. Arguelles places a high premium on instructional leadership, emphasizing the implementation of innovative teaching methods and a commitment to maintaining high academic standards.

Empowering Students in Learning and in Life

Early College Academy and Career Enrichment Center is an APS Magnet School and a School of Choice open to all students in Albuquerque.

ECA and CEC have focused on setting a very high achievement bar. ECA has a five-year average graduation rate of 91.8%, the highest in the district. 100% of graduating ECA students over the last five years have gone on to a two or four-year college or enrolled in a career preparation/certification program. ECA works with their struggling students to identify skills and strategies that will ensure success in preparing for college/career while still nurturing and developing all students with strong communication skills and the emotional intelligence to think independently, engage in the process, and be willing to take risks and be engaged, no matter how challenging the task at hand.

Fostering a Welcoming Learning Environment

Mr. Arguelles has worked hard to create a safe and welcoming learning environment conducive to high student achievement at the high school level. He is a dedicated student advocate and will always foster, nurture, and maintain a safe, positive, and respectful learning environment conducive to academic success.

In his two decades-long experience of management in the private sector, he gained invaluable experience through the oversight of millions of dollars in budget and managing hundreds of employees. In his 12 years at ECA/CEC, he has had autonomy over the entire school budget, allowing his team to make crucial decisions regarding the use of funds for every facet of school expenditures.

His strengths include the planning, development, organization, management, and implementation of programs and initiatives through a shared leadership model. His training as an SQS/Baldrige Site Trainer, Lucent Learning facilitator AVID Best Practices, and Read 180, as well as other training he has received, has given him experience in developing and implementing comprehensive strategic plans that focus on short-term and/or long-term goals. His ability to build a strong, collaborative team through leadership, focus, and vision is evidenced by the successes of the schools he has been associated with.

Preparing Students for College and Careers

Patrick has also put in place the effective design and delivery of professional staff development activities and identified and devised 21st-century best practices for preparing students for college and careers through shared leadership. His job as a site administrator of a high school is to partner with all stakeholders – students, teachers, parents, and community – to reduce truancy, increase technology, advance the way teachers use data to inform instruction and prepare students for college and career, and to provide all students with an enriching and challenging education.

The school has been recognized as a top-tier NM high school designed to inspire, motivate, and empower students in learning and in life by providing a non-traditional high school environment, rigorous and relevant instruction, effective pedagogical practices and innovative strategies effectively preparing students to be successful in in an ever-evolving global community.

ECA works with their struggling students to identify skills and strategies that will ensure success in preparing for college/career while still nurturing and developing all students with strong communication skills and the emotional intelligence to think independently, engage in the process, and be willing to take risks and be engaged, no matter how challenging the task at hand.

The NMASSP was proud to add another recognition by announcing that ECA and CEC Principal Patrick Arguelles has been named the 2017 Principal of the Year for Secondary Schools in NM.

Although excited by the announcement, Arguelles is quick to note that ECA and CEC’s success is predicated on an administrative team of trusted and knowledgeable experts that meets weekly to support student achievement by setting high expectations for teaching, learning, and leading and fostering an environment where staff are free to take risks.

The leadership team works collaboratively with staff, students, and parents to encourage an environment that celebrates school successes and learns from failures; ECA/CEC grows and develops partnerships that extend student learning beyond the classroom and allow for practical, real-world applications of learned skills. Students leave programs with the skills, attitudes, and characteristics necessary to succeed in their post-secondary education and be viable contributors in an ever-evolving global community through practical, real-world applications of learned skills.

Prioritizing School Improvement Process

Arguelles is proud that teachers and students assume leadership roles outside of the classroom, actively participate in the school improvement process and take ownership of resulting setbacks and successes. In essence, the school has shifted accountability from the individual teacher to the teaching community. Arguelles states, “…it is willing to take on tough issues and acknowledge when school goals have not been met or initiatives have failed. The school provides a safe and systematic environment for all stakeholders and makes sure rules and procedures are clear, specific, and followed.”  

Principal Arguelles opens his school doors to district leadership departments, community members, and partners, as well as guests, including foreign dignitaries from as far away as China and the Middle East. CEC partners with the University of New Mexico (UNM), Central New Mexico Community College (CNM), and the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) to provide dual enrollment opportunities for students in APS. In doing so, Principal Arguelles maintains an instructional focus that encourages partnership and camaraderie as the school builds experiences and opportunities for students in an evolving economy.

Mr. Arguelles has been a board member of the NM Association of Secondary School Principals and the NM Coalition of Educational Leaders for the last six years and has had many learning opportunities and professional development during this time.

Personalized and Rigorous College-Readiness Learning Experience

The Early College Academy (ECA) is an APS magnet and sister high school of the Career Enrichment Center that focuses on college preparation.  Classes are offered to 220 students in a small school environment. ECA classes are scheduled in the morning and meet every day so that students may take a full load of CEC, UNM, or CNM classes in the afternoon. ECA’s small-school environment offers students a personalized and rigorous college-readiness learning experience. ECA believes in an academic focus, paralleling a college-level curriculum, and encourages students to start their post-secondary work while still in high school.

In addition, his school, Early College Academy HS, was named NM’s only 2019 National Blue Ribbon High School for Exemplary Academic Success. It is only the third high school in NM given this honor since the award was implemented in 1982 and also one of only two high schools in NM to receive a school grade of A for every year the NMPED has awarded school grades.

In his 20+ years of management in the private sector before moving to education, Patrick’s extensive experience as a top salesman and sales manager gives him the exact skillset necessary to help raise money for students. He has gained invaluable knowledge through the oversight of millions of dollars in the budget.

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