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Tolleson superintendent says Hispanic heritage is key when connecting with students

Dr. Lupita Ley Hightower’s journey to becoming the superintendent of the Tolleson Elementary School District begins with her roots in Mexico.

PHOENIX — Dr. Lupita Ley Hightower’s journey to becoming the superintendent of the Tolleson Elementary School District begins with her roots in Mexico.

“I was born in Nogales, Sonora, as well, and was born the oldest of five in Nogales, Sonora, and just an amazing family. I think of my parents, I think of their work ethic, I think their love for community and community service. So, knowing that they are the ones that raised us in a way that we have to give back,” said Hightower.

The oldest of five admires her father’s hard work and loyalty to his family.

“My dad, I think, finished eighth grade and then stopped going to school. I do say my dad is the smartest man I know, and I count on him and how wise he is in a lot of the work that I do as well. So, it's a beautiful family it's a wonderful family.”

When she was in 6th grade, her parents made a life changing decision:

“My parents felt that we would all have a better future if we immigrated to the United States,” Hightower said. “So they came to this amazing country with five kids with the dreams of us having a better future.”

Her future would take her to the Tolleson Elementary School District where she can relate to many of the students.

“In Tolleson, 80% of our students and families are Latino. Many of them are bilingual. So, having that relationship with them, being able to speak in their language, having meetings for our families,” said Hightower.

She hopes to now inspire the next generation of leaders always keeping that connection to culture.

“Hispanic heritage is important to me because it is the pride that we have in our community. That pride that we need to share with our students, and so they know, and they can see themselves in. In the greatest assets that are Hispanic community has brought to this amazing country” said Hightower.