Best in Class: Reyes Maria Ruiz Leadership Academy

Students who attend Reyes Maria Ruiz Leadership Academy are not only encouraged to excel in the classroom, but to be thoughtful leaders and engaged community members.  

Reyes Maria Ruiz Leadership Academy (RMR) is an ESPIRITU charter school that serves students in Kindergarten through sixth grade. The campus is also home to ESPIRITU’s Esperanza Montessori Academy Preschool.

“We’ve been founded in south Phoenix since the time of conception and we’re here to serve the community. We’re founded by a group of family members that wanted to make a different impact in the community and knew that education was the way to do that,” said Adam Sharp, RMR Servant Leader Principal.

RMR, along with the other ESPIRITU charter schools, serves students that are typically underserved. 98 percent of RMR’s students are eligible for free and reduced lunch, according to Sharp.

RMR includes servant leadership-focused elective classes that are designed to prepare students to lead others and be a service to their communities.

“Every student takes Leadership and we talk about how to be a good leader, how to be a good servant leader. How to go out, change the world, multiply other people to learn leadership skills so you can add different leaders to your team,” Sharp said.

In addition to being a good leader, RMR works to instill three core values in the students: faith, family and tradition.

“Faith is not about a certain religion or anything like that. Faith is simply believing in yourself and believing in others and having that faith that you can really do great works,” Sharp explained.

The focus on family is to remind students that as they make decisions and work toward their goals, they are representing their family.

Families are also encouraged to participate in activities with the students and promote tradition in the community.   

“Tradition and community- we serve our community, we represent our community. We do different things like Ballet Folklorico dances, Mother’s Day celebrations, family movie nights- different things like that to engage the community,” Sharp said.

As students prepare to learn and take their next steps, RMR works to give students hands-on learning opportunities.

“We also have a community garden on the school that’s blooming right now. The kids have garden club,” Sharp said. “They water it, they beautify it, we have different things growing in the garden.”

He said, “We’re trying to always make our campus a nicer place. And, once your work in a nicer place, once you study in a nicer place you feel better and you produce better results.”

RMR and the other ESPIRITU charter schools challenge students in the classroom, help them engage with the community and encourage them to be leaders as they move forward.

As parents and guardians send their children off to school, Sharp said it’s important to know that the school they are going to is right for them.

“I’m a big school choice person. I believe you’ve got to find the right fit for your child. I think we have a lot to offer and a variety of activities that can fit many different children,” Sharp said.

Sierra Ciaramella

Graham Bosch

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