All schools are different. I’m not talking about the actual building, the number of students, or the educational focus they follow. I’m talking about the school’s spirit. This is something that can only be appreciated when you have a good Principal.
This is the case of Spring Lake Magnet Center, where Sue Aguilera- Robles has worked as the principal for 15 years until today when she decided to finish this chapter of her life; leaving behind a legacy of 830 kids enrolled in one of South Omaha’s top elementary institutions.
A teacher since 1988, Aguilera-Robles is a woman who knew how to make this institution an effective professional and personal space for teachers, a space for the students’ growth, creativity, and discovery.
In there, adults continue to be kids, and kids have a lot of fun as they prepare for their lives as adults. With this dynamic, there isn’t a strict sense of discipline, per se. Students are always busy and, at the same time, they’re very happy.
And Aguilera highlights there is no good school without a good principal
Part of the secret was seeing everyone as one big family. “At Spring Lake, we work hard so that we managed to connect with kids, highlighting what is good about everything. Yes, we do have to teach them math, social studies, and more, but the idea was to seek a connection by discovering where they’re from, what obstacles they’re facing and what I can do to encourage them to keep going.”
Aguilera became a good administrator with the ability to have the right team for the job. As a leader, she garnered a reputation as someone skilled and open to suggestions, managing to introduce important improvements to her institution.
And after all of this, today she retires from Omaha Public Schools.
While reviewing everything that has happened over the last 15 years, Aguilera mentioned: “I feel that when I arrived at Spring Lake, the parents didn’t have a voice in their kids’ school. They now feel at home and have freedom of entering my office to talk or ask me anything.”
Sue Aguilera mentioned that she is happy to retire and is at ease knowing that the teachers and staff at Spring Lake are the new voice of their community, “because they’re all now more aware of the things that parents go through financially, culturally, with immigration issues, and more. When I arrived, I was the only one fighting for parents, and today we have the entire team at Spring Lake doing that.”
On her last day at work, everything flowed naturally, from the moment kids arrived at school to when it was time for each one of them to go home. During that day, as she walked through the halls, each one of “her children” would rush towards her to hug her even more than they used to, showing how much they had grown to love her, saying to her things such as: “I’m going to miss you.”
It was a bittersweet moment for the team. They were happy to see her reach this goal and go out towards new projects, but they were also melancholic to know she would no longer be there with them.
They applauded her, sang to her, ate ice cream, and gave her letters and other things of immeasurable emotional value. They even cracked some eggs filled with confetti on her and chased her with water balloons, as if it was the last time they could play with her at SpringLake.
“I just want to be remembered as someone who has worked hard for education since it’s the key for opening many doors. I want parents to remember that they are their kids’ first teachers. But, above all, I hope students never forget that they can achieve anything, even if it’s not easy because things that are worth it can be achieved with a lot of work and education is something that will help them reach their dreams.”
Sue Aguilera is retiring, but she will continue to work with the community in a different way.
“I will work at the office of Mayor Jean Stothert. She wants me to work in South Omaha to inform her of the needs of the people. She wants kids to be more involved in community programs in Omaha, so I’ll be able to visit the schools with new projects, and I’m sure that I will continue to see many of those at Spring Lake,” she said.
Sue Aguilera became an important part of an institution that acknowledges her as one of the key individuals who helped to achieve school efficiency in the Omaha Public Schools.
“I didn’t reach success by working on my own. I still thank my parents for always supporting me. But I also acknowledge that I worked at a school in a place where I was born, and that made it easier since I had a community that supported me a lot, and I also had an excellent team, open to work and to fight for the well-being of kids, their families and my community in general. I have been blessed a thousand times, and working at Spring Lake has been one of them. Thank you to all.”