Episode 009: Xavier de la Torre, PhD

"Education is the civil rights issue of our time.  There is no more important agenda to making sure that we continue to enjoy the economic prosperity and the national security we've enjoyed for over two centuries than being part of the public school system."

-Xavier de la Torre, PhD

Listen to Episode Here:


     Dr. Xavier de la Torre is the Superintendent of the Ysleta Independent School District (YISD) in El Paso, Texas.  Prior to joining YISD in 2014, Xavier served as the Superintendent of Schools in the neighboring Socorro Independent School District (SISD), and as the County Superintendent of Schools with the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE).

     During his three-year tenure at SISD, Xavier emerged as a dynamic instructional leader and nationally recognized superintendent who was credited with securing two consecutive Broad Prize award nominations (2009 and 2010) and three consecutive Texas Education Agency (TEA) Recognized District distinctions (2009, 2010, and 2011). In 2010, 37 of the 39 eligible Socorro schools were rated “Recognized” or “Exemplary” on the state of Texas Academic Excellence Indicator System (AEIS). 

     As County Superintendent of Schools at the Santa Clara County Office of Education, Xavier led a regional service agency that provided leadership, instructional services, student services, and business services to 32 school districts and more than 270,000 students. His advocacy for universal pre-kindergarten programs led to the building of the first Educare facility in California. 

     Xavier began his career in education as a teacher, coach and principal in various school districts in California before serving as Associate Superintendent of Human Resources in the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District, where he managed all aspects of personnel and labor relations. He then served as Associate Superintendent of Human Resources and Chief Labor Negotiator in the Elk Grove Unified School District in Sacramento, Calif.
     Xavier has a baccalaureate from California State University, Chico, a master’s degree from the University of San Francisco, and a doctorate degree from University of California, Davis. Born and raised in northern California, Xavier is married, and has five beautiful  children.

About The Conversation

  • Xavier believes his parents were integral to his success.  They saw education as the singular responsibility that supported his development, and that of his siblings. 
  • His strong advocacy for early education was based on his experiences as an educator, and his belief on the impact of early learning experiences on future academic achievement.
  • The 3 Pillars:
    • Scholarship:Developing the capacity of his teachers is a key feature of his leadership.  This is accomplished through deep learning, and not through "flavor of the month" strategies.
    • Leadership: Xavier believes that leadership is critical to any sustained success.  He articulates that leadership is not positional, but belongs to anyone who engages in the work, leading to a more collective impact.
    • Agency: Xavier's story reflects a social justice agenda that seeks to address issues of access, equity, and inclusiveness.
  • Xavier's work on improving the achievement of his students is driven by his sense of urgency.  At the same time, he makes clear that such urgency is balanced by a level of patience and respect for the existing culture, its relevance, and its importance. 

Resources Mentioned

District Website: Ysleta Independent School District

You can reach Xavier at

The District Leader email:  podcast@disrictleader.net

You can subscribe to the District Leader on iTunes

The Sponsors
This episode is being sponsored by
audible.com, where you get a FREE audiobook download and 30 day free trial at www.audibletrial.com/districtleader, by Isagenix, one of America’s leading health and wellness companies, and by Wiredprofiles.com, Education’s Daily Digest.

Additional resources

You can reach Luis Valentino on

  • Twitter handle: @district_leader
  • LinkedIn: Luis Valentino
  • Facebook page: districtleader.net