Arturo Salazar was born in McAllen, Texas in 1942. He was raised and educated in South Texas, where he worked until he migrated to Dallas in the mid-1970s as one of the few pioneer bilingual administrators to establish a base in North Texas. He became a role model and mentor for other Hispanics. As a young adult in 1964, Salazar received a bachelor’s degree from Pan American University in Edinburg, Texas and began his teaching career in the distributive education program at Weslaco High School. He was soon promoted to assistant principal. Salazar was hired by the Edcouch–Elsa Consolidated School District in 1971. While he worked there as the director of vocational education, Salazar pursued his master’s degree and doctorate certification, which he received from Texas A&M University in 1976. Salazar moved to Dallas and worked as a facilitator for the occupational education department in Dallas Independent School District.
Over the next 26 years, Salazar served as assistant principal at J.F. Kimball High School and principal at Anson Jones Elementary, Robert E. Lee Elementary and T. J. Rusk Middle School. In 1992 he returned to the occupational education department as director. He ushered in a name change and a new dedicated focus for the program, known today as Career & Technology Education. Salazar was instrumental in securing funding to implement career and vocational programs throughout the district. He also fought for technology improvements in secondary schools in Dallas.
When not helping school children, Salazar was helping adults file citizenship papers, improve their English skills, and get their GEDs through the DISD Adult Basic Education Program. He also reached out to help struggling adults in Garland, Carrollton and Irving. Salazar was a leader in many organizations including Dallas School Administrators’ Association, Dallas Association of Hispanic School Administrators, Dallas Association of Bilingual Education, and Dallas Central Lions Club. Friends and family members say he always placed his job and responsibilities ahead of himself, and he stood for excellence in education. Arturo Salazar died on November 17, 2002 at age 59. One of his longtime DISD colleagues said of him, “Arturo Salazar built on the legacy his father and mother gave him - one of hard work, caring about family and valuing education.”