ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WSPA)- Asheville City Schools has announced the appointment of Dr. Rick Cruz as the district’s new superintendent. 

“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Rick Cruz as our new superintendent,” said Asheville City School’s Board of Education Chair, George Sieburg. “He possesses a remarkable combination of educational expertise, strategic vision, and dedication to student achievement coupled with a demonstrated commitment to deep partnership with families, community, and educators. We are confident that he will lead our district to greater heights of excellence.”

Dr. Cruz joins Asheville City Schools from Houston Independent School District in Houston, Texas, where he serves as their Deputy Superintendent and helps oversee all aspects of the district’s operations. He previously served in numerous executive leadership roles, including Chief of Strategy and Innovation, Chief of Major Projects, and Assistant Superintendent of College and Career Readiness.

“I am honored and excited to make Ashville my home, be an active member of its amazing community, and join the remarkable team at Asheville City Schools,” said Dr. Cruz. “I am passionate about working alongside all our stakeholders to ensure that ALL students – regardless of their starting point, background, race, learning disability, or any other circumstances – grow and reach towards their limitless potential. And I am deeply committed to building trust and working with our entire community – both within the school district and outside of it – to make this happen.”

Originally from Mexico, Dr. Cruz began his journey in the field of education as a fifth-grade teacher in a school where 98 percent of the students faced economic challenges. His exceptional teaching abilities garnered him the Teacher of the Year award on two occasions. As a teacher, he founded and led EMERGE, a nationally recognized nonprofit organization that now operates in multiple school districts and helps thousands of low-income students prepare for, attend, and graduate from the nation’s top colleges.

Dr. Cruz possesses a doctorate in educational leadership and policy, as well as a master’s degree in education administration, both earned from the University of Texas at Austin. He also holds a bachelor’s degree, with distinction, from Yale University. He has served as an adjunct professor in the education programs at the University of Houston and Rice University. He is actively involved in the community and has served on the boards and advisory boards of several education and arts-related organizations.

In the coming weeks, we will organize opportunities for students, staff, families, and community members to meet and engage with Dr. Cruz. “Cruz’s enthusiasm and eagerness to connect with our exceptional students, staff, and community will undoubtedly foster a strong sense of unity, open communication, and mutual respect,” said George Sieburg.

Incoming Superintendent Dr. Cruz’s first day on the job will be July 1, 2023.