Dr. Aquino was born in the Dominican Republic, where he pursued a bachelor’s degree in psychology at the Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo. While attending college, he also volunteered to teach literacy to underprivileged children and adults, to work with handicapped children and to work with people with leprosy. These experiences gave him the opportunity to develop sensitivity to social issues such as poverty, hunger, and homelessness.
Upon completing his degree, Dr. Aquino was recruited by the New York City Board of Education as a bilingual teacher. His contributions to the teaching profession were acknowledged in 1990 when he was selected as New York State Bilingual Teacher of the Year. Teaching in those public schools allowed Dr. Aquino to confirm that it was in the field of education that he found his greatest satisfaction. As a result, Dr. Aquino decided to further his professional training by pursuing his graduate study in education. He received both his Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Fordham University. His master’s degree is in bilingual education and his doctoral degree is in curriculum and teaching with a specialty in language, learning, and literacy.
Dr. Aquino has presented in various regional, national, and international conferences. In addition, he was featured in the videotape series, “Approaching the Vision of the National Council of Teacher of Mathematics Standards: A Videotape Series for Teacher Development.” He is also the co-author of the book, “Breakthrough Principals: A Step-by-Step Guide to Building Stronger Schools.” The book debunks the myth of the “superhero” principal by detailing the common actions and practices of leaders at the nation’s fastest-gaining public schools.
Dr. Aquino served as a senior vice president at Discovery Education. In this role, he led the organizational efforts in supporting districts’ work to ensure continuity of learning during the pandemic. He was also assigned by the New York State Commissioner of Education to serve as the Distinguished Educator to the Rochester City School District. In this role, he conducted an intensive review of district and school systems, structures, operations, and facilities, and developed an action plan to turnaround the district. Dr. Aquino also served as the chief program officer for New Leaders, a non-profit organization that aims to recruit and train school leaders who focus on improving education results for low-income and underserved students.
He has also held top leadership positions in several districts. He served as deputy superintendent of instruction for Los Angeles Unified School District, where he was responsible for overseeing the local district superintendents, teaching and learning, special education, early childhood, adult education, and parent and community engagement. Dr. Aquino also served as the chief academic officer in Denver, where he was responsible for implementing a transformation plan that led to record gains in student achievement. In New York City, Dr. Aquino served in many capacities. In addition to being a teacher, he was also a mathematics and science staff developer, a mathematics coordinator, a director of bilingual education programs, a curriculum writer, deputy executive director for the Division of Instructional Support, and local instructional superintendent.
Dr. Aquino served as the general manager for the East Region of America’s Choice. In this role, he was responsible for 20 states and the District of Columbia. He was responsible for managing the delivery of contractual services across the region, as well as leading business development efforts, overseeing the regional budget, and supervising senior staff to assure high-quality service to clients and ensure improved student outcomes.
Throughout his career, Dr. Aquino has made positive differences, especially by encouraging, supporting, and helping students, parents, teachers, and administrators achieve their potential. However, he says, he feels that his accomplishments fair no comparison to the blessings and knowledge he has received from his best professors: the children he has had the privilege to serve.