«To me the teachers gave me hope for the future,» says John B. King Garcia of Puerto Rican mother, remembering her past.
For some its path he was already traced. He showed that they were wrong. At age 12 he was orphaned. Part of his childhood lived between instability and the obligation to assume the responsibilities of an adult at the unexpected departure of their parents.
During adolescence continued turbulence. Seasonal lived in unstable environments. He joined a boarding school thinking it was the best alternative, but was expelled. He was not happy and was overwhelmed.
The school was not only refuge but their salvation. «To me the teachers gave me hope for the future, not just what I needed to succeed in college, but faith that I could achieve,» said John B. King Garcia, secretary of the United States Department of Education .
King Garcia of Puerto Rican mother, assumed leadership of the agency in mid-March after being nominated to the post by the President of the United States, Barack Obama, but served as undersecretary since 2014. In 2015, following the resignation of Arne Duncan, assumed command of the agency.
During his career in public service, he has always stressed the role that teachers had in the times of insecurity crossed for a few basic steps for any child. «During that frightening period the school was my refuge,» King confessed in a blog published in the Huffington Post.
Today, all left behind. His commitment and dedication of their teachers were the key.
How teachers saved your life? What through his love, acceptance, teachings?
All that. Many students, men of color in the United States, had opportunities after school, so many men of color in the cities of the United States had no work, confidence in their future. But I teachers gave me hope for the future.
There are two teachers who always remember fondly and which has always spoken. One of them is Mr. Osterweil, who was «like a surrogate father» to him. «I was a little crazy, a former hippie who wore shoes two-inch platforms but it was an amazing teacher,» said King García then.
«In the classroom I felt safe there, I felt I was educated and challenged,» he said in the blog about the educator, who forced them to read every day the New York Times. So, I was in fourth grade.
Then, intermediate, wine Dessasure Celestina, an educator who in his spare time was an actress and inside the room was that perfect mix of discipline and joy. «If it were not for them I would not have survived that period of my life,» he said in the letter.
How important is school to close the gap of inequality?
The school is the most important to have opportunities in life, economic opportunity means. The school is also most important for democracy in a country. It is therefore very important that all students receive arts schools and teachers have committed that can help them get what they need to succeed. It is also important that all schools have the resources to technology, for books, for after school programs and summer.
Have you experienced this inequality?
For me school was very important because my parents died when I was a child and the school was the place where I could put my life in order. It was the site where he had the opportunity to be a child, the opportunity to not only learn, but to enjoy the day and so I understand that school is very important for students who have difficult lives after school. The school can give the opportunity and provide security to students, so I work hard every day to give other students what I had.
King Garcia grew up in Brooklyn. His father was a teacher, principal and superintendent. His mother came to the Bronx from Ponce, Puerto Rico, at 8 years. It was the first in her family to earn a college degree and worked as a teacher in the New York public system. It was the example of his parents, coupled with the dedication of their teachers, which led to King García to take the route of teaching.
He has a BA majoring in Government at Harvard University. He holds a Masters degree in Social Studies Teachers College of Columbia University, a JD from Yale University and a doctorate in education with specialization in educational administration, also from Teachers College.
His teaching career began in Puerto Rico, Saint John’s School, in San Juan. Later, he taught at Boston and New York, where he was commissioner of education. «I taught English but had the opportunity to learn about life in Puerto Rico, meet students and their families,» he said of why he accepted the opportunity to teach in the land of his mother. He was here one year.
Due to the early death of her mother she was very little known in Puerto Rico as a child, but still always interested to know the island and, above all, keep the mother tongue.
How he has kept the Spanish?
Doing interviews, but I understand a lot more than I can talk … and at school. My mother died when I was a kid, so I had no chance to practice.
More recently, he recalled during the interview his press officer, the secretary gave instructions to any official who speaks Spanish to communicate with him in that language.
King Garcia, 40, took a few minutes to talk to The New Day during a visit he made to school Arturo Morales Carrion, in San Juan. I was accompanied by his eldest daughter Adalinda, who was visiting for the first time Puerto Rican soil. He was comfortable, relaxed and interested. «I’m happy,» he said after sharing informally with a group of students.
Do you regularly came to the Island?
Sometimes, but when I was very small. My mother traveled many times. Now I have some friends and family who are here, but most are in New York.
What do you remember most about your childhood and those trips to Puerto Rico?
The beach, of course. Also the coqui (laughter) and the time spent with my family. My grandmother had an aunt like 100 years or older who lived in Ponce and we went to visit her.
And the food, something has to like it.
Of course. Tostones and mofongo and fillers.
¿Puerto Rico has always held a special place in your heart?
It’s part of my mother and now I have the opportunity to bring my girls aged 12 and 9 years, which is the first time we are here. I am very happy to share the experience with them and learn a little. My little girl is here today (during the interview), its name is the same as that of my mother, but she has not had the opportunity to go to Ponce, but now let’s go.
It would be in the country for a week and although the early days was in official business, enjoyed the days following a holiday. Among their plans he was to visit Old San Juan and the Master City.
What understood to be the biggest challenge of the country public system?
There are opportunities, but there are many things that are difficult now for the government crisis. It is very difficult for everyone and understand that it is difficult to pay people giving services to schools but also have principals and teachers who are working very hard for the students and have the opportunity to improve education.
For King Garcia, the inclusion of the arts is essential in the teaching process. «The arts give students a reason to go to school and the opportunity to learn how words are used to express your ideas to others. They can also understand how you can use paint and whatnot to express their ideas and feelings, «he said. «There is also to create spaces for teachers to help peers and exchange ideas on how to assist students, especially those who belong to disadvantaged communities and for whom the school is the only place of safety.»
«There is no answer to all problems in the system. It was not before and there is none now. The essential thing was and still give them the tools so they can get as far as possible. The most important thing is that I all schools should give students the opportunity to prepare for college, «he said. FUENTEELNUEVODIA.COM
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