The National Association of Secondary School Principals has recently recognized Filipina Cynthia Rapaido as California’s National Assistant Principal of the Year. She has also been named Association of California School Administrators‘ 2013 Secondary Co-Administrator of the Year.
Rapaido has been assistant principal at San Mateo High School in San Mateo Union High School District since 1997. She is in charge of facilities, school calendar, co-curricular activities, student leadership, student discipline and teacher evaluations among other areas. She also serves as the administrative liaison to the Music Boosters, Drama Boosters, SMUHSD Black Parent Association and SMHS Athletic Hall of Fame Committee.
Despite a very full plate, Rapaido is cited for her caring and supportive style and high level of organization. And in 2011, she was named one of the 100 Most Influential Filipinas in the U.S. under the category of “Business & Emerging Leaders.”
Rapaido’s colleagues often paint a picture of her as the calm in the center of a storm. She grew to perfect a way of organizing that gives her a big picture view of everything going on. That allows her to easily and systematically access information; something she said becomes very helpful during moments of crisis.
“The calm comes from a desire from within to achieve a state of grace,” she said. “It is a life-long goal of learning, observing and training.”
That state of grace and a willingness never to give up on students, made her transition from teaching to leading worthwhile.
Rapaido remembers one student in particular whom she helped, named Gigi Ng. She entered high school as a troubled girl and within weeks was exhibiting behavioral issues. But Rapaido took the time to listen to Ng and build trust.
“I often saw myself in many different hats when dealing with her: a counselor, an administrator, a big sister, a mom and a mentor,” Rapaido said.
After high school, Ng kept in touch, and Rapaido encouraged her to continue her education. Ng decided she wanted to pursue a career working with high school students who struggle with emotional and social identity, just like her.
To reach that goal, Ng completed her bachelor’s degree in sociology and pursued a Master’s of Social Work with an emphasis in K-12 education, along with a Pupil Personnel Services Credential at San Jose State University. Rapaido was proudly in attendance at Ng’s master’s graduation ceremony.
Ng now says Rapaido changed her life, inspiring her to grow and change. Rapaido gave her hope and has continued to guide her journey, Ng said.
Cary Rodda and EdCal contributed to this piece.