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Beloved Principal Raúl Calzadilla, Jr. Says Farewell

Beloved Principal Raúl Calzadilla, Jr. Says Farewell

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Highly admired and well loved by his students, parents and teachers, Principal Calzadilla will retire from Air Base K-8 Center on June 12. Here is his story.

Although he was born in New Jersey, he arrived in Miami at age 9. At school, he received a great legacy from some American teachers who were eager to help Cuban children to integrate and adapt to the American culture without forgetting their roots. At that moment, he found his path was education, and he would impact immigrant students with whom he shared strong ties.

Raúl Calzadilla, Jr. chose education as a career mainly because his parents insisted that education was not only the best way to get ahead but also to impact the world. His parents, Raúl and Carmen Calzadilla, emigrated from Cuba in 1955 and landed in Union City, New Jersey, perhaps anticipating what would come a few years later with the rise of communism and the exile of millions of Cubans

Upon graduating from high school in 1976, Raúl enrolled at Miami-Dade College and completed his teaching degree at Florida International University (FIU) with a B.A. in Elementary Education, followed later by a Masters in Elementary Education from Nova Southeastern University and a Graduate Certificate in Educational Leadership from FIU

Raúl served 34 years with the Miami-Dade County Public School System, and the last 15 years, as principal of Air Base K-8. He dedicated his life to education. Perhaps due to destiny or because his future was marked to impact this educational center, the year he was born, 1958, the school was also founded. It was called Air Base Elementary School and was just outside the gates of the Homestead Air Force Base.

Raúl stood out in his 23 years of administrative and managerial work, both as assistant principal and principal. However, he recalls, “The most enjoyable part of my career was as a teacher. Almost every year I taught math and science in 5th grade. It was a rewarding experience because I dealt directly with the students and I was closely immersed in their process.

Since his arrival at Air Base K-8, the school has had significant achievements. In 1996 the school was recognized as a National Magnet School of Merit, offering an international program with a focus on language immersion. “In the last 15 years, we expanded the school to a K-8 program, introduced the Cambridge Education System, and we went from having 600 students to more than 1,100, with 250 children in the gifted program,” says Raúl humbly.

In addition to being recognized by his colleagues as one of the best principals in the district, both for his charisma and love for education, his success was also acknowledged by the Miami-Dade School District. “When I was at Leisure City, I was nominated for Assistant Principal of the Year and ranked among the six finalists,” he says. Besides, he was chosen in 2011 by the Superintendent of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools to be part of the Principals Leadership Development Program, designed for those principals who stand out due to their leadership skills.

We are sure that on his last day of duty, his family—made up of his wife Miriam and three children—will be very proud of him for the services provided, the achievements obtained, and his unrelenting desire to help the community. He has been married to Miriam for 38 years, and in that period, he has been an active part of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, where he currently serves as president of the management council.

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When asked about the legacy he leaves after finishing his service at the school, he answers, “The school belongs to the community, that is why all the members (teachers, students, parents, and volunteers) understand that by being united, we build a powerful force. Children get to achieve their goals because there is a united voice behind them. We are a team, and everyone contributes to improving.

“I know that my work has finished, and I’m leaving with a contented heart,” says Mr. Raúl Calzadilla, Jr. in a warm, nostalgic way. June 12 will be his last day as principal of the Air Base K-8 Center for International Education. “I am leaving with immense gratitude to the staff, teachers and parents. Together we have built a strong team, always aiming for the benefit of our students.”

Haz clic para leer en Español: El muy querido director Raúl Calzadilla, Jr. nos dice adiós

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