• Erica Peterson

Maldonado: Leading with collaboration and flexibility

Promising Practices & Bright Spots


Leadership matters. Great leaders have the power to motivate and inspire others to take action. Innovative leaders are those who can successfully communicate and influence across their organization, impacting results by driving a culture change. It is through supportive and flexible leadership that Palmdale School District Superintendent Raul Maldonado is navigating his team through the pandemic and its impact.


Palmdale School District, located in the rural high desert of north Los Angeles county, serves approximately 19,000 Tk-8 grade students across 28 campuses. Maldonado, who has led the district since 2014, has been a life-long advocate for students. The following excerpts are from our most recent feature highlighting Maldonado’s leadership as a best practice and bright spot:


What sets Palmdale apart? “Instead of waiting for things to happen we make things happen,” Maldonado said. That is why, when schools first closed at the beginning of the pandemic, Palmdale officials were quick to ensure every student had a device and a hotspot to connect to...

That’s one of the qualities that I like to brag about, the fact that we are a team. We’re a big school district but we feel like a family because everybody knows each other and can feel confident that we’re all about making sure the students have the best.

Now…the district has hired a physical education teacher for each elementary school, which will also have a “maker room” in which students are given the tools they need to explore their interests with hands on projects. They can create pieces of art, build robotics projects and more. Middle schoolers…again have full in-person access to interactive nursing and STEM/STEAM courses, as well as the Youth Cinema Project, which provides students an opportunity to make their own movies and showcase them in Hollywood at the end of the year...


“One of the things that helped me through this pandemic was knowing that we have a strong team here in Palmdale that I can count on to make sure processes are in place, whether it’s in facilities getting our schools ready, or in the areas of student services, special education, finances, education services — everybody was working together,” Maldonado said. “That’s one of the qualities that I like to brag about, the fact that we are a team. We’re a big school district but we feel like a family because everybody knows each other and can feel confident that we’re all about making sure the students have the best instructional program, that they’re achieving at high levels, and that we have equity in mind and value the students’ cultures and languages, and ultimately, that we value our community.”


Editor’s note: The Palmdale School District has been a SI&A Achievement Initiative partner since 2010.