Professor of Education of the Year

August 4, 2017

ACSA is honoring this year’s Administrator of the Year Award recipients, and each is being profiled in EdCal leading up to the formal awards gala at the 2017 Leadership Summit in San Jose.

School leader is paying it forward

Commitment to making a positive impact. Decades of experience building expertise. A passion for investing in future generations of leaders.

ACSA’s 2017 Professor of Education of the Year, Trudy Tuttle Arriaga, embodies these outstanding qualities of educational leadership, bringing her own unique perspective to the field and challenging norms for students and staff alike.

Arriaga’s impressive career has included the roles of bilingual paraeducator, director of administrative support services, professor and principal, as well as being the first woman to serve 14 years as a superintendent in a large school district in California. She continues to be inspired by the people who encouraged her to dream bigger.

“I became a school administrator in the 80s...when there were very few female leaders,” Arriaga said. “A female assistant principal tapped me on the shoulder and told me that she thought I would be a great assistant principal...that’s all it took for me, to have someone see something in me that I hadn’t seen in myself.”

As superintendent of Ventura USD, Arriaga was committed to the qualities of kindness and principle-based leadership to achieve student success. In recognition of her accomplishments, she was awarded ACSA’s Marcus Foster Memorial Award for Administrator Excellence in 2013. Not one to rest on these laurels, Arriaga shifted to a new challenge: helping to prepare the next generation of school administrators for the same kind of success.

“To know that a child is well prepared to go out and make their mark on our world because we were there...nothing better than that,” she said. “I am now proud to pay forward my experience and expertise as an instructor and chair at Cal Lutheran University in the Educational Leadership Department. I have the honor of working with the emerging leaders in our state at CLU to assist with the preparation of those who will lead in the future.”


Arriaga also continues her work around equity and cultural proficiency, aligned with ACSA’s Equity Project. She has led discussion groups at networking events, participated in panel discussions and recently published a book on the subject.

“My (book), ‘Opening Doors,’ has allowed me to travel throughout the U.S. and share my passion of equity, access and opportunity for all. I’m in the planning stages of a next book focusing on the unique aspects and impact of a female leader on a culturally proficient environment.

“I am most inspired when I see progress in decisions, policy, practices that occur on behalf of our children that truly ensure equity and access for all,” she said. “I have worked with stellar administrators in my career at all levels of the organization and was so inspired by the courageous decisions that were being made to benefit all students and their communities.

“I am inspired by the skillful classroom teachers and paraprofessionals that give everyday, all day to the students of our communities. Making decisions that are culturally proficient and truly open doors for students, families, staff and community inspire me.”

As a member of ACSA since 1987, Arriaga had high praise for what the association offers.

“ACSA has been a mainstay in my career. From the professional development, to advocating on the Capitol steps, to networking with colleagues, I attribute much of my success to ACSA.”

“I am now in a position where I am able to give back to ACSA as a debt of gratitude to all those who gave to me,” she continued. “I am currently co-chairing the New Superintendents Seminar Series with my colleague, Dr. John Roach. What a privilege to work with the new superintendents in California and to assist in their success in their very unique position. I am also the Region 13 coordinator of the ACSA Mentoring Program, which allows me to foster and guide the relationships mentors and protégées have throughout our region.”

The theme of the Leadership Summit this year is “Leading Beyond Limits.” We have asked each of our Administrators of the Year to share what this means to them.

“Throughout my career, I have been able to ‘lead beyond limits’ because of those who mentored me, believed in me and supported my work,” Arriaga said. “This second chapter (in my career has) far exceeded my hopes and dreams for the future. Without those around me, I would not have ever been able to lead beyond limits.

“ACSA has definitely been an organization that gave and continues to give opportunities to continue to carry the dreams forward.”

All ACSA Administrators of the Year will be honored at the President’s Gala and Awards Celebration during Leadership Summit in San Jose, Nov. 3. To register, go to

All ACSA Administrators of the Year will be honored at the President’s Gala and Awards Celebration during Leadership Summit in San Jose, Nov. 3. To register, go to

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