Principal Vincent Iturralde's day starts early at Tarkington School of Excellence in Marquette Park. This is the beginning of his seventh year at the pre-school through the 8th grade. The 44-year-old is a hands-on principal who oversees 1,100 students along with teachers and staff.
"I think we have made an impact in the community," said Iturralde. "I am looking forward to my students coming back and saying to me, 'Yes, Tarkington was a special place.' "
Iturralde grew up in Litttle Village and now lives in Pilsen with his wife and three children. Iturralde says his father Vicente was a factory worker who had a second grade education and his mother Enedelia graduated high school. His father stressed that education gives you choice, something he did not have.
"I wanted to give that same choice to other kids," said Iturralde. "Early on, a mission instilled by our parents, to not just take from our community but to give back."
This former college dropout is committed to holding teachers and students accountable.
"He is a principal that really lets teachers teach," said teacher John Phillips.
Vincent's younger brother Victor is the principal at the new Eric Solorio High School in Gage Park, named after the Chicago Police officer who died in the line of duty. The school is also an AUSL teaching academy.
"I feel very blessed to be in the position to be the principal here in this community," said Victor. "Our mission here is to prepare students for college and prepare teachers for our school district."
The parents of these principals instilled in each of their 10 children the value of hard work and education. Their sister Veronica is an assistant principal at Kelly High School.
"I want to create a school I would be satisfied to send my own children to," said Victor. "That is what I aspire to."