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Donna ISD Superintendent Angela Dominguez’s upbringing inspires students to dream big

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When Angela Dominguez took the helm at Donna ISD in October of 2021, she became the first woman superintendent in the district’s 100 plus year history. While this title in itself is a huge honor, there is another distinction Superintendent Dominguez recently attained that gives her more reason to be proud. The San Antonio native earned her doctorate (Ed.D) in Educational Leadership and Policy from the University of Texas at Austin, raising her professional education status to Dr. Dominguez.

As she reflects on her road to success, Dr. Dominguez couldn’t help but think about her upbringing and the many obstacles she faced along the way. In fact, statistics had her destined for failure. Born to 16 year-old parents, Dr. Dominguez found herself growing up in dire circumstances. To compound the situation, her mother chose not to be in the picture so her father took full responsibility and raised her and her three siblings with the help from Dr. Dominguez’ grandmother.

Times were tough. “My siblings and I were raised in San Antonio’s Westside, which is considered one of the poorest school districts in the state and one of the most poverty-stricken urban communities in the United States,” Dr. Dominguez said. “We lived in a small one bedroom home. The conditions were rough. We had no insulation, no heat, and no hot water. But, my father, who was a hardworking man, did the best he could to have food on the table and keep our family safe and healthy.”

Dr. Dominguez admitted attending public schools early on wasn’t easy and often felt she didn’t fit in. But, as she got older, mentors began to play a big role in shaping her educational path. She wound up applying and being accepted to Dartmouth College, a private Ivy League research university, and one of the most prestigious institutions in the United States. “While attending Dartmouth, I quickly began to realize that my schooling had not prepared me well for my college experience at Dartmouth,” Dr. Dominguez said. “So, I promised myself to work hard, graduate and become an educator who would help improve our educational system and shape the lives of our future generation.”

Upon graduating, Dr. Dominguez began her career in public education. She has served as a teacher, principal, and district administrator. At the campus level, she led a Dual Language Academy, within the San Antonio Independent School District, that was nationally recognized. She also opened the first all-girls public school in the City of San Antonio and ran a comprehensive high school in Somerset ISD that moved from low performing to one of the most distinguished schools in Bexar County.

At the district level, Dr. Dominguez worked as Chief of Schools and Assistant Superintendent at Edgewood Independent School District. While there, she led efforts to open the district’s first Early Head Start Program for infants to three year olds. She also launched the Gus Garcia University School in partnership with Texas A&M San Antonio as well as led post-pandemic academic recovery efforts in a district serving over 20,000 students. Her last administrative role before coming to Donna ISD, was at Colorado Springs School District 11 where she served as Deputy Superintendent.

At Donna ISD, Dr. Dominguez worked hand-in-hand with the Board of Trustees and district administration to generate a comprehensive five-year plan that focuses on the district’s number one outcome, which is to graduate all students ready for college, career, or the military. Also, under her leadership, the district obtained a B Rating with the State of Texas for academics and a perfect score in school finance. She also launched the first early childhood learning center of its kind in the Rio Grande Valley focused on PK3-2nd grade at M. Rivas Primary Discovery Academy. In addition, she put a new program in place to serve the district’s special education students ages 18-22 with a successful transition into the real world. The district also committed to a Dual Language Program in all 14 elementary schools and three secondary campuses that will graduate students who are bilingual, bi-literate, and bicultural.

Now, in her 27th year in the education field, Superintendent Dominguez is viewed as an inspiration to the young generation she wholeheartedly serves at Donna ISD, particularly the district’s female students who might have dreams of leading an educational institution someday.