The 2022-2023 school year is off to a busy start for John F. Peeler Elementary School Principal Tito Salas, and he is showing his school spirit in a rap video dressed up in a “Peeler Pirates” costume with a hook for a hand. The rap video, produced by Dallas ISD Public Safety Officer Mauricio Montoya, was originally meant as a special “welcome back” message for Salas’ students, and it has now been making its way around YouTube.
Over the summer, Salas knew he wanted to come up with an idea to get Peeler Elementary excited. His own children, who are also Dallas ISD students, love the viral TikTok song “Jiggle Jiggle,” so he rewrote the lyrics to feature several teachers’ names in the “Pirates Dream in Gold” video. Salas was filmed all over the school in places like the library, gym and classrooms. He also decided to make “Pirates Dream in Gold” his theme for the rest of the school year.
Salas was born and raised in Oak Cliff and has been a part of Dallas ISD since elementary school, later graduating from Skyline High School.
“I owe everything to Dallas ISD from my opportunity as a student to my career now,” Salas said. “It’s the reason that I’m able to do the things that I do.”
He served as Emmet J. Conrad High School’s assistant principal for five years before taking on his current role. To prepare for his position as principal, Salas was in the Leader Excellence, Advancement and Development Program (LEAD) for an entire year. He said speaking to other principals was critical in setting the tone and culture he hopes to establish at his school.
“My whole first semester was about building relationships, not only with students but with staff, parents and community partners,” he said. “It takes you away from the actual work, but you decide as a principal how much time you want to spend on it. I decided to invest heavily on building relationships.”
One way that Salas fosters those relationships is by maintaining a strong presence for parents and students. In the mornings, he can be seen greeting parents as they drop off their children, and throughout the day he is high-fiving students in the hall.
“I see myself in my students,” Salas said. “I was one of those kids walking in those hallways. My students, they look like me, speak like me, and they are interested in the same things as I was.”
Salas has no doubt that Peeler Elementary is going to thrive this school year. He said he inherited a great staff that was doing a phenomenal job before his arrival in 2021, and he believes they will continue to excel with or without him.
“One day I’m going to leave and I don’t know when that day is going to come, but I’m very invested in this community and I’m going to do everything for it,” he said. “But it shouldn’t be that somebody leaves and everything stops. I want to build something sustainable that’s going to be able to continue.”