Manuel O. Valenzuela, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
350 W. Sahuarita Rd.
Sahuarita, AZ 85629
(520) 625-3502 x1001
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Dr. Manuel Valenzuela is currently the Superintendent of the 6,400 student Sahuarita Unified School District, a rapidly growing K-12 school organization just south of Tucson, AZ. His responsibilities include serving as the Chief Executive Officer in the organization. Dr. Valenzuela became the new superintendent on July 1, 2010, after having served for five years as the Assistant Superintendent. During his time as Assistant Superintendent responsible for curriculum, instruction, and standards, all schools achieved federal and state accountability measures.
In Dr. Valenzuela’s tenure as superintendent, the District has achieved multiple systematic indicators of progress and growth as a quality public school organization. In 2014, the District’s Governing Board approved the SUSD 2020 Directions Plan, providing clarity and focus on planning and action steps. Sahuarita faculty members have been highly recognized through the State Teacher of the Year Program (7), Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award (3), and Circle K High School Faculty Award Finalist (1). Dr. Valenzuela, in cooperation with community leaders, founded the Sahuarita WINS! strategic partnership, which provides systemic collective planning, in support of congruent directions in regards to education, workforce investment, economic development and overall quality of life in the community. Through Dr. Valenzuela’s leadership with this partnership, Sahuarita USD became Arizona’s first National Math and Science Institute (NMSI) school district, resulting in a 300% increase in the district’s enrollment and success in college-level Advanced Placement (AP) programs. In 2015, the Sahuarita WINS! partnership was recognized with the prestigious Common Ground Award by the Metropolitan Pima Alliance. The fifth (5th) Sahuarita school (Walden Grove HS) was recognized with the respected Arizona A+ School of Excellence Award in 2017. Sahuarita students continue to increase their rates of admission to over forty (40) institutions of higher education, including some of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the country. In 2017, the District’s approximately 420 graduating high school seniors collected over $7,000,000 in scholarships, a number that has increased each year since 2012.
Dr. Valenzuela has worked with the University of Arizona in identifying and implementing innovative programs and practices to address the teacher recruitment and retention issue. These efforts include the Sahuarita Teaching Fellows (STF), continuous professional development, and comprehensive workplace environment elements. Furthermore, the District has launched a multisector, comprehensive initiative to deliver student-centered solutions to the issue of concussions and traumatic brain injuries. The program includes educational, individualized student support, and risk mitigation parts. Thus far, over 150 students have been supported in their successful recovery from such an injury
Dr. Valenzuela attended the Flowing Wells Public Schools from K-12, graduating as class valedictorian in 1984. He has been inducted into the Flowing Wells Alumni Hall of Fame and the Athletic Hall of Fame. Dr. Valenzuela is the son of Mr. Manuel Sr. and Mrs. Amelia Valenzuela. Both of his parents were immigrants from Mexico who always valued education and encouraged their children to get a good education and strive to be the best that they could be. Dr. Valenzuela began his educational career as an English language learner in kindergarten and graduated from Flowing Wells High School thirteen years later as the class valedictorian.
Dr. Valenzuela served as a middle school science teacher, coach, elementary level assistant principal, middle school assistant principal, and elementary principal for sixteen (16) years, prior to joining the Sahuarita Unified School District.
In 2002, Dr. Valenzuela completed the Doctor of Education Degree (Ed.D.) at the University of Arizona. His dissertation was titled, “A comparative investigation of leadership style in Southern Arizona elementary school principals based upon socioeconomic context in the school community.” Previously, Dr. Valenzuela earned a Master of Education degree in Educational Leadership from the Northern Arizona University (1993) and a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree with a major in chemistry from the University of Arizona (1988).
In 1998, Dr. Valenzuela was the first educator in Arizona to be notified of being selected to receive the prestigious Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award. At this time, he was Principal of Walter Douglas Elementary School in Tucson’s Flowing Wells Unified School District.
Dr. Valenzuela was among the first twenty-seven (27) superintendents in the country to graduate from the AASA National Superintendent Certification Program (2015). This same year, Dr. Valenzuela was honored as ASA All – Arizona Superintendent of the Year for Large Districts. Furthermore, he received national honors from the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA), with their Excellence in Educational Leadership Award (2014).
Dr. Valenzuela was appointed by Gov. Janice K. Brewer to the Governor’s Commission for Postsecondary Education and served two terms, ending in 2017. Dr. Valenzuela currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Carondelet St. Mary’s Hospital, and on the Catholic Diocese of Tucson Sexual Misconduct Review Board. Furthermore, he served as the Chairman of the Pima County Superintendents’ Group and the Pima County Board / Superintendent Collaborative (2013-2017).
Dr. Valenzuela is an adjunct professor in the Educational Leadership Department at the College of Education, University of Arizona. He also serves on the Professional Preparation Board (PPB) at UA, and its corresponding Executive Committee.
Dr. Valenzuela is a native Tucsonan and has been married to his wife, Sandra, for over twenty-eight (28) years. They have two adult daughters.
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Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent
350 W. Sahuarita Road
Sahuarita, AZ 85629