Bienvenido, Robert Neu: The shoes of a superintendent | Tito Hinojos

Some years ago, the youth pop culture of America used a popular slogan when making an emphasis on a view point. They would say “word up" or just “word.”

It was a way of expressing a feeling or emotion clearly — or used to concisely express their thoughts.

Well, I say today, "word up" after I was privileged to have been involved in the process of selection for a replacement of the Federal Way superintendent’s position. I personally thanked both men who were hoping to get a final nudge of community confirmation, with hopes of occupying the office of the Federal Way School District’s "commander in chief."

I listened to the responses of both finalists and observed how they managed their interactive dialogues with the audience. I concluded then that we were about to enter another zone of success in our school district, which I call the “Neu Zone.”

I don’t know how many times the phrase “those are big shoes to fill” has referenced the successful track record current superintendent Tom Murphy is leaving as he finds newer adventures in the life of retirement. Let me assure you: Just like there is only one Ronald McDonald with big red shoes, one Dorothy with the special red slippers, and one Michael Jordan with the Air Jordan shoes — there is also only one Tom Murphy, with big shoes of success.

The Latino culture is known for its subjunctive social mores and family values, but there is one in particular in which I extend to new superintendent Robert Neu — and that is “mi casa es tu casa.” This is used when a visitor is reckoned as a guest due to his exhibition of respect of the humble sheltering called home. In parallel to this highly valued precept, I would expand the parameters to include "mi comunidad es su comunidad." So, I want to be one of the first to congratulate Mr. Neu and say to him and his family, "Bienvenidos to Federal Way."

The fast growing segment of the Latino population of Federal Way is not expecting nor asking that you fill someone else’s big shoes. All we want is for you to put on your huaraches (sandals) and walk with us "mano a mano" as we continue on the path of innovative paradigms and best practices of providing new millennial urban contemporary ways to educate our youth. Allow us to seek our dreams and visions as every student is given an opportunity to succeed.

On the humorous side, the other day I was approached by a Latino parent who asked if I had heard any updates on the selection process for superintendent. With a smile, I responded no, but I hope it is Mr. Neu. The parent responded, “como se llama el señor Nuevo?"

I chuckled and said, "No señora, se llama Sr. Neu." Since I phonetically pronounced it as Neu — new — she thought I was hoping we would get a new superintendent.

Yes, I confess that I join the many who are saddened to see my amigo Tom Murphy retire, but on the flip-side of the coin, I am excited to see Federal Way schools expand the horizons under the Neu leadership. Word up! Federal Way, get ready as we go into the Neu Zone.

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