Alexis Marrero – Doctoral Program Graduate
Dr. Alex Marrero completed his doctorate in cohort 1 of the Sage Colleges Doctoral Program, in partnership with CITE. He’s about to enter his fourth year as Principal at school 10×254, or as he calls it, Team 254, in the Bronx. Alex is a tremendous person who’s affected great change in a short time, so we were excited to sit down with him and talk.
CITE and Sage have partnered to offer this innovative program with an outstanding 85% completion rate in Brooklyn and Long Island. School Leaders who want information on our next start, click here.
Why did you decide to do a doctorate?
I did it for myself. I wanted that sense of accomplishment: to get a terminal degree. I’m a former ELL; I lived as a young hispanic male in the Bronx. For that young Alexis who was counted out, to persevere and get something not a lot of people have, it was for that sense of accomplishment.
My mom was very sick, and I lost her while I was in college, and the only thing she required of me was to do well in school. She sacrificed for my brother and I. Education saved my life. I didn’t know which way I was going to fall: I was in the welfare line; they wanted me to drop out of Fordham University, but I said no way. And then educators started helping, and I’ve been reciprocating since.
Going through undergrad and graduate programs, you meet these incredible individuals, doctor so and so, doctor so and so. I was this little kid who was afraid to be called on…
I’m so happy that I did it. It’s brought me to a different place in terms of understanding the world of education.
Tell us about taking the helm with Team 254
I was an AP in the same district, and I was expecting to take over my school. But the former principal of this school (10×254) was removed, and then became my AP. It was a low-performing school, which didn’t scare me because: there’s only one way to go. In two years, we turned the school around.
How did you handle the transition, that sounds difficult. Your AP was the Principal before you.
I have to give credit to the SAGE doctoral program. We did a lot of system leadership training, where we think of systems, of a district-level mindset for problem solving. We worked with change, managing complex change. I adopted that. I was using the theory in practice. A lot of my cohort was incredibly supportive.
I adopted the eight-step change philosophy, and started shoving data at the school. Before, there had been no turnover, but also no urgency. I put myself on the chopping block. I shook them all up. I created urgency.
Step two was to bring the AP close to me, to use his expertise to create a nucleus of change agents. I had a rocky year one, a better year two, a great year three, and I’m expecting an even better year four.
What doors has this doctoral program opened up for you?
I present a “managing complex change” workshop. I’ve presented at the CSA conference, neighboring districts, and renewal schools. I’ll also present in Philadelphia at the Association of Middle School Leadership Education conference. I’m humbled that I’m a presenter.
Four years ago, I didn’t feel any of this would happen. CITE / SAGE has created that for me, and opened doors. I created this presentation on complex change towards the end of my doctoral journey: I’d been given the opportunity to travel to Brazil, and started working on this change workshop. The US and Brazilian Consulates partnered and I presented in three places. It was an incredible fifteen days. And when I returned I thought I had to share this with colleagues here. So I presented at Manhattan College, and then at the CSA conference.
Getting the doctorate was an incredible sense of satisfaction. I was humbled to get the outstanding student award, because I remember relying a lot on my cohort.
What is your goal in all of this?
My goal is to make sure this school is one of the pillars of the Bronx.
I’m forever grateful – and this is not just me trying to say thanks – because you’ve (SAGE/ CITE) been great to me and others. I believe in the work you’ve done. My APs have become administrators through CITE / St. Rose. CITE partners with the right institutions.
Flip through Alex’s presentation on managing complex change below:
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