Nate Maruca: School principal and father of three sons

Whether he’s on his way to Thew Elementary, where he’s the school principal, or headed home to greet his own three kids, Nate Maruca will tell anyone who asks that all is good. In fact, that’s the guiding overview of life he learned growing up and even today wants to instill in every kid with whom he comes in contact.

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Maruca, who started with the Tempe Elementary district 21 years ago, operates under similar philosophies whether he’s reaching for positive outcomes in the classroom or at home with a 9-year-old and 7-year-old twins. Among the most effective of the values he relies on, Maruca says, is that having fun as an adult can help create a positive learning environment for kids in the classroom or at home.

“You can teach anything, whether it’s learning fractions or doing chores around the house,” he says. “When I have the boys doing the laundry at home, I try to include the idea of fun as an outcome. ‘We’re going to do this laundry and then we’re going to go for a bike ride.’” Summarizing some of Maruca’s learning strategies, he suggests that helping kids develop their own passions is also important.

“That’s a win for me as a dad. And when they come back at some time in the future and say they’re finding love in what they do, that brings me joy.” Also important, says Maruca, is letting kids make mistakes and supporting them when they do.

“How we respond when they do and embrace their failures is important both in school and at home,” he says. “The first time a kid at home falls off the bike…that’s how they learn. Next time they’re going to wear knee pads.” What it all boils down to, suggests Maruca, is that kids still have to come to (life) realizations on their own, and parents are there for support. “When they make mistakes, I can tell them about the mistakes I made.”

These are simply part of what it takes to accomplish what he considers dual goals. “This is what’s so important,” Maruca says. “The two most important jobs I have are being a dad and being an educator.”



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