As principal of Antonio Maria Lugo Academy, double SOE alumna Sarah Ali has led her school to high levels of achievement, as recognized by being named a 2012, 2011 and 2010 Title I Academic Achievement School. She began her role as principal when the school was recognized as a 2010 California Distinguished School. Located in Huntington Park, AMLA is a part of the Aspire Public Schools network, and in 2011 was one of only seven Title I Academic Achievement Schools – an honor for schools that have doubled the achievement targets set for them for two consecutive years – attached to Los Angeles Unified School District.
After completing her bachelor’s degree in political science from LMU, Sarah taught third grade at Dolores Mission School in Los Angeles. “Seeing the environment of poverty and violence that my students were exposed to inspired me to push myself to develop my skills as an educator even further so that I could be of greater service to my students and school community,” said Sarah.
After moving to a teaching position at Accelerated Charter Elementary School in Los Angeles she found herself taking on more administrative roles and wanted to formalize her administrative training. When looking at graduate programs, Sarah says she drew from her experience as an undergraduate at LMU. “I knew I wanted a strong emphasis on social justice, and a program that combined theory and action,” said Sarah. “At LMU the mission and conceptual framework aren’t just things written on a piece of paper, but are practiced. The SOE is full of practitioners who I feel are like-minded in working for the benefit of others, which was important to me as a developing leader.”
While completing her master’s degree in School Administration from LMU, Sarah earned certificates in Charter School Leadership and Special Education Leadership. During this time she also transitioned to a new position coordinating professional development at the Camino Nuevo Charter Academy, which led to her current position as principal at AMLA. Speaking to her School of Education experience, Sarah said, “If inspired to be a change agent, and inspired to make an impact on the educational landscape, the LMU School of Education is the place for you. SOE is committed to developing you as a person that will have an impact on others. As a student you experience a challenging, yet personalized approach to education and a collaborative, family orientation of the students and faculty.”
Besides the formal recognition her school has received from the state, Sarah says she is most proud of the day-to-day occurrences that can go unnoticed – from“a child who tells me about their day by using academic language with evidence to convey ideas” to “a teacher who has an exciting story to share about a breakthrough with a student.”
Aside from her career, Sarah loves reading, cycling, and is blessed to have an incredible husband to whom she is happily married. She has been “living strong” as a cancer survivor for seven years and is an avid yogi, relying upon her practice to foster a sense of balance, enabling her to be a better woman with and for others.