By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

Magda Romero had no intentions of going to college after graduating from Dayton High School.

But her school counselor had other plans.

“She completed a scholarship for me and got me going,” Romero said. “It was just never in my mind to do higher education. That was just not something that my family talked about.”

Now, as the new principal of Cummings Elementary, Romero wants to encourage kids in the same way the school counselor did for her.

“That’s what I love about my job is to just start planting those seeds and telling people if I can do it, you should be able to do it,” Romero said.

Romero’s journey to becoming a principal started as an office manager at an elementary school in McMinnville. It was there where she was encouraged to go back to school to become a teacher.

After finishing what she had started about 10 years earlier, getting her associate’s degree from Chemeketa Community College, Romero enrolled in the Bilingual Teacher Pathway program at Portland State University.

Her first job was at Richmond Elementary in Salem, where she taught third through fifth grade for nine years.

“I never intended to become administration,” Romero said. “I think it’s all because I wanted to be able to advocate for kids and families and encourage them do what I do and believe that you can have it.”

Romero saw she could make a bigger impact as a principal so she went back to school and got her master’s in special education at Portland State.

She spent the 2017-18 school year as an assistant principal, working part-time at Keizer and Chavez Elementary schools.

Cummings is her first principal job.

“This is the sweetest place they could have asked me to come to,” Romero said. “I feel so fortunate to be here at Cummings because they have a really strong community. The neighborhood association is amazing. The PTC is outstanding. They’re relentless in working to provide the school with whatever it is they need. The staff, a lot of them have been here a long time. I’m really excited to be here and feel really lucky that it’s such a strong community and a good school.”

Romero isn’t looking to make any immediate changes.

“I don’t feel like it’s my school,” she said. “I feel like I’m going to catch the train as its going and I want to ride the ride with them.”

Romero, who has three children of her own, has asked the faculty at Cummings to share photos of their families on a wall in her office.

“Family is really important,” Romero said. “ I want to not just get to know them but get to know who their family is and what drives them is really important to me. That’s what I like about Cummings is it feels like a family.”

Cummings is hosting an open house on Tuesday, Sept. 4 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Romero looks forward to meeting all the families.

“I’ve always loved kids and I feel so lucky,” Romero said. “I would do this for free. I really would because I love kids so much.”