Principal of south-side public school


C.E. Rose K-8 School was one of seven elementary schools in the country to win a national education award for excellence.

Rose is the first and only school in Arizona to receive the honor from the National Center For Urban School Transformation, based at San Diego State University.

The TUSD school was one of 14 nationally selected for the 2012 NCUST Excellence in Education Award. The award is presented to schools that the center identifies as being among the best urban schools in the country. More than 60 schools have won the award since 2006.

According to the center, Rose exemplifies what it looks for: a school with students who are not expected to excel but who actually achieve results that are better than the state average.

Rose, which is on the south side and serves nearly 600 students, is led by Principal Stephen Trejo, who next month will head to the Excellence in Urban Education National Symposium in San Diego to take part in a session with 13 other principals whose schools are being recognized by the center.

"This recognition makes us all feel pretty good but we don't want to stop here," Trejo said. "We have an obligation to keep going. We haven't arrived - there are still students who aren't achieving and we need to work to help them reach their potential."

Rose, at 710 W. Michigan Drive, went from being labeled underperforming/failing by the state in 2003 to being identified as an "A" school last year.

This school year, Rose transitioned from an elementary school into a K-8 after parents pleaded with the Tucson Unified School District to add sixth, seventh and eighth grades because they didn't want to send their children elsewhere.

Four components that stand out in Rose being honored by the center are:

• The positive school culture.

• A strong curriculum.

• Quality instruction in each classroom.

• Support for students who are not achieving at expected levels.

In January, Trejo was named a finalist for the Rodel Exemplary Principal award for his ability to inspire high academic achievement in a high-needs school.

Trejo's efforts go back nine years to when he first became principal of C.E. Rose.

At the time, he focused heavily on reading intervention - building a strong foundation there that enabled students to perform well in other subjects like math, writing, social studies and science.

"There's been a strategic focus on those students who aren't reading at grade level because once they become proficient, that reading comprehension helps to solve math problems and makes students better writers," he said. "It's all interconnected."

Trejo said the school's success is a team effort.

"The main thing is we have a shared mission that we've all bought into," he said. "The paradigm is kids in the C.E. Rose neighborhood can achieve anything, and we see it every day."

It's not only teachers who have had to buy into the philosophy, he said, it's also students, who have been tasked with being leaders in their own learning.

The students are responsible for keeping track of their progress and reviewing their own data.

"What's interesting is, this has all occurred as our funding has gone down, yet our achievement has gone up," Trejo said. "It starts from all of us working together and the students seeing themselves as someone who can achieve."

Trejo has also extended his mission to improving the community around him by hosting a Leadership Day on May 4 from 9 a.m. to noon. Business and community leaders, along with community members, are invited to visit and see what the school is doing.

Those interested in attending should RSVP by calling Rose office manager Josie Borboa at 908-4400.

Did you know?

C.E. Rose K-8 School is named for Clinton E. Rose, district superintendent from 1920 to 1941.


For more about the National Center for Urban School Transformation, go to

Contact reporter Alexis Huicochea at or 573-4175.