Original URL: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/northeastvalley/articles/0816sr-pvchanges16Z7.html

Palomino principals prepare
The Arizona Republic
Aug. 16, 2003
Christina Lucarotti

Ana Ramos-Pell and Manuel Ramirez can't wait for school to start Monday.

The new principals of Palomino and Palomino II know they have their work cut out for them.

Their students face the challenges of poverty, transient populations and an English language barrier.

Both principals say they can relate, having had to overcome similar struggles themselves.

"I am a poor Hispanic child who came up through education. I couldn't sing or dance or do sports," Ramos-Pell said. "Education was the only way to get up out of the ghetto."

Education and using the two Palomino schools as community resource centers will help their students succeed, Ramos-Pell and
Ramirez said.

"We didn't know we were poor. We didn't know we had challenges against us because everyone was helping us," Ramirez said about his childhood in Superior. "I see this, and I think this is a doable."

Until this year, Palomino Elementary School served kindergarten through sixth-grades and had a student body of more than 1,200
students. Now the school has been split.

This year, students in kindergarten through third-grade will remain at Palomino, 15833 N. 29th St.

Fourth- through sixth-graders will attend the adjacent Palomino II, 15815 N. 29th St.

Students, faculty and community members voted on the name for the new school.

The split will allow for more manageable student bodies at both campuses - reducing the student population at Palomino to about 730.
A little more than 500 will attend Palomino II.

"I see us as two different arms of the same body," Ramos-Pell said, adding that the new Palomino II building will create more space for
community service activities.

If it was up to her, she said she would build a high school next to the campuses to keep the Palomino kids from dropping out.

For now, the goal at both schools is literacy, an education basic the principals hope will help them overcome Palomino's
"underperforming" label.

Ramos-Pell said weekly student assessment will be one of the main tools at Palomino for making sure students don't fall through the

At Palomino II, Ramirez wants to promote a program called Quest, which hooks students up with mentors and prepares them for college.

Palomino won't be the only school with new leaders at the helm.

Students in the Paradise Valley Unified School District will see several new faces.

Seven other schools will have new principals: Aire Libre Elementary School, Desert Trails Elementary School, Foothills Elementary School, Indian Bend Elementary School, Echo Mountain Intermediate School, Greenway Middle School and North Canyon High School.

Reach the reporter at christina.lucarotti@arizonarepublic.com or (602) 444-6879.