After serving the Tolleson Union High School District for over 14 years, Alfred “Bo” Oxford has been announced as the finalist for the principal position at Copper Canyon High School.
Prior to his new position, Oxford served the Tolleson community in such roles as administrator, educator and coach. He has been a math teacher, basketball and baseball coach and he most recently served as assistant principal at Tolleson High School.
Copper Canyon welcomed staff, students, families and the community to a forum on July 12 to meet Oxford, ask questions of him and provide input.
Juan Ceja, assistant superintendent for human resources for Tolleson Union High School District, led the forum, asking Oxford questions about his prior experience and intentions as principal of Copper Canyon.
Oxford introduced himself by starting with his journey to finding his passion in the education field, despite having graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in finance and accepting his first job out of college at a bank.
“I’m glad I took this job, because for me it was gratification that I needed to be in education, that I belonged in education. Pulling credit reports and running spreadsheets and being in an office 9 to 5, it just wasn’t for me. I didn’t get the satisfaction that I did in coaching and teaching,” Oxford said.
His journey in education began in 2007, when he became emergency certified to teach. After his first day as a teacher with his own classroom and students, Oxford said he was hooked.
“I couldn’t have been more excited. There was never a night when I was working at the bank where I couldn’t go to sleep, because I was excited to go to work the next day,” he said.
“But in education, I knew that every single day I look forward to going to work. For me, it’s because I have a passion for what I do, and I’ve experienced the other end of not enjoying my job and not having that passion.”
In his first two years of teaching, Oxford went back to school to become a certified teacher.
“In those first two years while I was at La Joya, I went back to school, got all my education credits and I really worked hard to be a fully certified teacher. That was important to me, because I didn’t want to have an asterisk next to my name on a certificate. I wanted to be 100% fully certified,” he said.
After teaching at La Joya for five years, Oxford went on to teach at Copper Canyon.
“While I was here at Copper, these were some of the best moments of my life, both personally and professionally. Copper will always hold a special place in my heart,” Oxford said.
His most recent transition was to Tolleson High School, where Oxford served as assistant principal.
“I’ve really done everything from overseeing the master schedule, raising the master schedule to logistics of graduation, overseeing testing, evaluating teachers, overseeing the guidance staff and ultimately the end goal to improve our academic student achievement as much as possible,” Oxford said.
Throughout his career in education, Oxford knew he wanted to someday be a principal. However, he knew he wanted it to be the perfect placement for him and his family.
“I wasn’t just going to apply for any position. I really wanted a position where I felt I was a good fit. And I don’t think there’s a better fit for me than here at Copper Canyon, where I feel like it’s a part of my home,” he said.
As the new principal of Copper Canyon, Oxford said he intends to continue to prosper the school’s academic excellence. In order to do so, he said it starts with supporting the freshmen class and celebrating character as well as academics.
“The students who did not graduate this year from Tolleson, 88% of those failed a class their freshman year. So what could we have done to intervene?” Oxford said.
“If we identify those students early on and they show growth, let’s celebrate. Let’s find an opportunity to intervene really early on.”
Throughout the forum, Oxford’s enthusiasm and constant praise of Copper Canyon made it clear that he is excited to start in his new role this upcoming school year.
“No. 1, I’m excited to just be back, even just driving on this campus,” he said. “I’m excited to be on a campus that’s not an uphill climb. My goal is to continue this flight. I know that’s going to be a challenge. It may not be easy, but we’re along for the ride together.”
Oxford takes pride in his ability to create connections and relationships with his staff and students, which he plans to make one of his priorities as he enters his first year as principal.
“My goal is to really get to know students as much as possible. I know that I’m not going to be able to get to every single student — that’s another impossibility — but I can do just about everything in my power to try,” Oxford said.
Ceja concluded the forum by asking why he feels he’s the best candidate to be Copper Canyon’s next principal, to which Oxford answered with a confident smile:
“I’m hungry, and I’m motivated,” he said. “I wholeheartedly believe that I am living proof of our district mission. For those of you that don’t know what our district mission is, it’s to develop the potential of all staff, students and community. This has poured a lot of resources and invested in me as a leader.
“I am absolutely not done developing. I want to continue to grow. I want to continue to push myself to be better, but I feel I’m ready now to begin to develop even more leaders and more leaders within this industry. I want to develop the potential of our students and our staff and our community.”