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Doctoral student honored as outstanding school principal

May 27, 2010

Juan Medrano, who is pursuing his doctoral degree in leadership and innovation through Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, is a 2010 recipient of the Outstanding Principal Award from the Arizona Hispanic School Administrators Association (AHSAA).

Medrano, a native of Tolleson, Ariz., serves as principal at Porfirio H. Gonzales Elementary School, which he attended as a child.

“This award is a great honor,” Medrano said. “It recognizes the dedication that we have as a school to continuously improving our practice as educators to facilitate high levels of learning for our students.”

Teachers College faculty members who work with Medrano were not surprised to see him honored for his achievements.

“Juan is a top-notch student. He is disciplined, thorough, contemplative and caring,” said Teresa Foulger, associate professor in the division of teacher preparation on ASU’s West campus.


His students are benefiting from a remarkable role model who is furthering his professional competencies through doctoral studies,” Foulger said. “In just two more years Juan will be Dr. Medrano, an indicator of how focused he is on educating the finest.”

Added Debby Zambo, associate professor in the division of educational leadership and innovation, “Juan has displayed a strong interest in raising teachers’ efficacy. His action research during the spring semester focused on helping his teachers align their assignments and create meaningful assessments.”

Medrano, a 1991 graduate of Tolleson Union High School, spent five years as a math teacher and one year as an assistant principal in the Tolleson Elementary School District (TESD). He has served as principal at P.H. Gonzales for the past four years.

Last year P.H. Gonzales earned a “performing plus” label. In nominating Medrano for the AHSAA award, the TESD leadership team noted, “Mr. Medrano has a focus and determination to see his students succeed that is unwavering.” According to Superintendent Bill Christensen, “Mr. Medrano is a true instructional leader whom you will find in classrooms working side by side with staff.”


My motivation to become an educator came from my family,” Medrano said. “My grandfather was a catechism teacher and worked in the tire business for more than 35 years. He always emphasized the importance of education to me and my siblings as a way to expand our life opportunities. My father has also been a career educator and athletic coach throughout my upbringing.”

The influence of family also inspired Medrano to pursue his Ed.D. degree, he said. “The emphasis of the importance of education and service to my community from my family has resonated with me throughout my life. Their encouragement inspired me to pursue education formally and informally throughout my life.  From my experience in the Ed.D. program I hope to continue to grow professionally and apply my learning from the program to improve collaboration with my colleagues at P.H. Gonzales Elementary School.”

The Ed.D. program in leadership and innovation, offered on ASU’s West campus by the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, is a three-year cohort program that prepares educational researchers who are interested in working as educational leaders in K-12, higher education, or business environments. The program focuses on action research projects that begin in the first year of study and culminate with the dissertation. Students engage in multiple on-site research cycles to implement change and study the results. Details about the program are available at  

AHSAA, which recognized Medrano with its Outstanding Principal Award, works to create and provide professional development and support programs for Hispanic educational leaders. More information about the organization may be found at