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     Dr. Hightower has worked for over 20 years in education in various roles as a: teacher, mentor/coach asst. principal, principal, district level director, asst. superintendent and superintendent. Lupine earned a Bachelor’s Degree with a Bilingual Endorsement from the University of Arizona, a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration and Supervision and her Doctorate in Leadership and Innovation from Arizona State University.
     Dr. Hightower is the Winner of the Jane Romatzke Out-of-School Time Leader Award in 2014 and received the National Education Leadership Award from Jobs for Arizona Graduates (JAG) in 2015. She is especially proud of her two daughters and the support of her husband. 

About The Conversation

     Lupita knew she would be a teacher since she was a child, and overcame obstacles along the way in preparation to becoming a teacher. 

  • There were educators along the way who could have been barriers, but she chose to use them as motivators in her struggle.
  • But she also had encouragement from others who believed in her, and saw her potential.
  • She had the opportunity to develop as a teacher under an amazing leadership and colleagues.
  • Over time, she developed a good reputation among district leadership.  This led to leadership responsibilities as a mentor.

     Her mindset has always been that she can make a bigger difference.  That has been a key marker on her journey toward becoming a superintendent.  She developed her capacity through the positions she has filled, and the responsibilities she has taken on.

     The 3 Pillars:

  • Scholarship: Lupita believes that as educators, we have to continue learning.  She has been part of different learning groups through associations, as well as her district staff.
  • Leadership:  It is terribly important to serve as a role model.  It is important to follow through on the mission, vision, and goals, and working with her team so that everyone believes in them.
  • Agency: In her district, the driving philosophy is that all children are capable of success - no exceptions. This has huge implications for hiring and retaining staff.   Both staff and students have developed a belief system about the knowledge, skills, and talents that exist among every student.  it empowers the whole team.

     One of the major challenges she faces is the public school rhetoric, based on misunderstandings about public education.  This is not unique to her district or to Arizona. She articulates the importance of sharing positive stories about the work in schools, and believe that a new narrative needs to be introduced into the consciousness of society.  The other challenge is finding enough candidates who want to go into teaching.


Resources Mentioned

District Website: Tolleson Elementary School District

You can reach Lupe on

  • Twitter:  @LupitaHightower
  • Facebook:  Lupita Hightower
  • Email:

The District Leader email:

You can subscribe to the District Leader on iTunes

The Sponsors
      This episode is being sponsored by, where you get a FREE audiobook download and 30 day free trial at, byIsagenix, one of America’s leading health and wellness companies, and by, Education’s Daily Digest.

Additional resources

You can reach Luis Valentino on

  • Twitter handle: @district_leader
  • LinkedIn: Luis Valentino
  • Facebook page:

"We have not suspended a student in the last 5 years. Now that's just the framework and the belief system.  There's a lot of strategy within that belief system, but it really empowers the whole team and the students to know that 'they do believe in me and there's going to be a strategy behind that' ".  - Lupita Hightower, Ed.D.

Episode 006: Lupe Hightower, Ed.D.