Two panels at last week’s National Latino Children’s Summit featured principals from several standout ‘A’ schools that serve primarily low-income and minority student populations. It’s always inspiring to hear from these dedicated individuals who are closing the achievement gap and making a way for every child, regardless of race or family income, to gain the skills they need for a bright future.

Time after time at this year’s Summit we heard how a great education is a differentiating factor in kids’ lives. It’s what opens the door to a future full of possibilities, and we were challenged to consider what our communities could look like if every student had a genuine opportunity to learn in an excellent classroom suited to their unique needs.

Great schools have transformative effects on our communities. They prepare young people to leave school and make a difference in the world, often without straying too far from home. That reality was personified at the Summit by several attendees who shared that they now teach in the same schools they learned in as kids. To have great teachers emerging from their own communities is a testament to their schools and the individuals who inspired them.

It’s really easy to get caught up in education policy and lose sight of the daily practices of the people in classrooms who create our best schools. The belief systems they hold and the actions they take to ensure their students will gain every possible advantage are the true basis for a child’s success.

These conversations were fabulous examples of why it is so critical to see what is possible through what is already happening. In even the toughest environments for children in Arizona, there are a growing number of outstanding teachers, principals and school system leaders who are shaping promising futures for our children. We owe them our thanks, our support, and hopefully, more and more imitation.