Profile: Debra Cantu
Debra Cantú serves as an Associate Professor of Practice at the University of Texas in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy. She serves as the Co-Director of the Texas Principal Leadership Academy at UT. In her current role, she collaborates with district partners to support, develop and retain effective secondary level principals in partner districts. Dr. Cantú assists the process to recruit, assess, select and prepare candidates who have the potential to become effective principals of elementary and secondary schools. She works with the University of Texas Advisory Committee to support the improvement efforts of the program and is developing a UT Principal Program Alumni to support current students, as well as organizing future leadership development events to provide learning opportunities for graduates of the program. Dr. Cantú serves as an advisor for the graduate students during their college experience.
She teaches six courses in the principalship program and mentors the graduate students in their internship and residency experience by meeting with each of the students and their principal and observes students conduct an in-depth campus study to identify areas of inequities and complete extensive research to determine how to best address these needs. Dr. Cantú supports their authentic experience to lead a participatory action research project to implement school improvement efforts in collaboration with their principal and community, which provides students with an optimal blend of theory and practice.
Dr. Cantú is the recipient of the UT Principal Program Servant Leadership Award in 2018, 2020 and 2021, given to a faculty member who demonstrates exemplary service and committed leadership to the principal program. She served as Interim Director of the Principal Program for a year and led the curriculum redesign to address the new state and national standards.
Dr. Cantú serves the community as an Executive Board member for the UT Hispanic Faculty Staff Association. She serves as a Co-Chair of the COVID-19 Task Force Professional Education/MA Programs/Continuing Education Committee. Dr. Cantu is a member of the SACs committee for the Department of Educational Leadership Policy and Planning. She serves as a Chair for the Principal Program Admissions Screening Committee, the AISD/UT Collaborative Task Force, the UT Principal Program Assessment Center Planning Committee, Leadership in Action Planning Committee and the Principal Program Certification Compliance Committee. Dr. Cantú has chaired the UTAPP Curriculum Redesign Committee in 2018 and currently serves on GSC, Grant Writing Committee, Master Schedule Committee, National Search and Interview Committee for the Principal Program and Public Schools Executive Leadership.