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TASA’s “Inspiring Leaders” tagline is not just a reminder of TASA’s commitment to leadership development; it describes our members themselves — school leaders who inspire others as they work to prepare future-ready students. Meet Rose Vega-Barrio, one of those Inspiring Leaders.

Along the U.S.-Mexico border, Tornillo ISD serves around 1,000 students with Rosy Vega-Barrio in the superintendent’s office, a position she’s held since 2017. Before coming to Tornillo, Vega-Barrio spent 17 years in Socorro ISD working as a teacher and administrator.

A Tornillo graduate herself, she says it’s a privilege for her to return to lead the district. In her five years at the helm, Tornillo ISD has opened an early college high school, offered industry-based certifications, provided access to certifiable college and career pathways, and made PK-12 STEAM curriculum and programming available to all students.

“Aside from educational access opportunities, our belief is that if the community thrives, then our students will thrive in the classroom,” she says. “Therefore, we pride ourselves in the time and resources invested toward our community such as the building of Coyote Park, offering of adult education classes, hiring locally with an emphasis on growing our own talent, and providing many social services such as medical, food and even a local library.”

School district leadership can be isolating, but Vega-Barrio says the rewards motivate her and keep her focused when challenges arise.

“Finding the joy in everything I do is where I find success and happiness. My philosophy has always been, if you aren’t surrounded by laughter, positive people, great thoughtful thinkers and truly loving your people, then challenges, stressors and feeling overworked and under-appreciated will weigh you down. I refuse to let that happen to me or to those I serve.”

Veronica Vijil, superintendent of Fabens ISD, says Vega-Barrio leads with a servant’s heart, always setting a strong example for her colleagues and peers.

“You will consistently find her in classrooms, PLCs, and multiple events that support her staff and students,” Vijil says. “Rosy’s humor and her joyous laugh are some of the characteristics I appreciate about her. Rosy listens and lifts everyone around her; I can count on her guidance and listening ear consistently. I am proud to call Rosy my friend.”

Vega-Barrio says strong relationships with other administrators keep her from feeling alone in her work.

“I have been very fortunate with the mentors I’ve encountered throughout my career, and their influence is what guides me in mentoring the next generation of administrators. While our work and decisions are individual, I believe that every successful administrator requires a network of individuals who have had a hand in helping through the thinking, planning and decision process. Everyone benefits from building these strong mentoring relationships, especially students.