He’s leaving a strong legacy behind and an extensive list of accomplishments in the School district after devoting most of his life working on his purpose in life: education.
After 47 years of service to M-DCPS, popular Dr. Larry Feldman is retiring. “In January, that’s 11 months ago; I had been working for 47 years straight. I loved it. It was not work; it was a calling from a special spiritual father who said to me: you want to be a teacher and work with kids, and I said yes.”
Larry started in 1973 teaching at several Miami-Dade elementary schools and worked his way up to assistant principal, principal and regional director. “I spent about 20 years as a director of multiple schools, and then I finished my last five years as a principal again, of a K-8 school.”
When it came time to retire, he wanted to graduate with the kids who had started five years earlier. So, he offered the superintendent at the time to work for a dollar, a story that became well-known in the county and even made it to the press. “If you give me a dollar, I’ll work for the whole year, but he said no.” The rest is now history.
Larry decided to run for the school board and got elected three months later, alongside the new superintendent, Alberto Carvalho. It’s been 12 years already, and in this period, the school district has had national recognition due to budget improvements and academic achievements.
Many of these accomplishments are credited to Dr. Feldman’s diligent work on the School Board serving District 9. He was re-elected to the School Board in 2012 and again in 2016, and served as Vice-Chair for four years and School Board Chair.
When asked about showcasing his milestones during his career, he hesitated – not because he didn’t have any, but mostly out of modesty and shyness. The reality is the list of accomplishments gets endless when looking back to his last 12 years as a board member and his 47-year career with the district.
Some of the items successfully sponsored under his agenda include: ensuring each middle and high school is staffed with a School Board Police Officer to enhance student safety, the Sandy Hook Promise “See Something, Say Something” gun-violence prevention programs, and the codification of active shooter lockdown protocols.
His contributions were not limited to safety protocols. These also included health initiatives and partnerships, for instance, with Nicklaus Children’s Hospital to strengthen policies related to head and brain injuries; or ensuring all district high school athletes receive free EKG screenings to prevent sudden cardiac death; and even the adoption of Mindfulness Practices for administrators, teachers, and employees, to mention a few.
These milestones made him worthy of becoming a senior member of several foundations and university teams, including Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education’s International Network of Principal Centers, University of Oxford’s Round Table, and the Panasonic Foundation; and he continues to serve on Executive Boards, Foundations and Committees.
He has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors for his educational work and ongoing public service with the multi-cultural and economically diverse communities throughout Miami, which included being awarded as the 2019 National Urban Educator and School Board Member of the Year; or the Green Garner Urban Educator of the Year Award from the Council of Great City Schools, among others.
Dr. Feldman was born in Miami 70 years ago and spent most of his life working on his purpose: education. However, he didn’t want to be a teacher. After graduating from high school, he got admitted to the University of Florida to become a dentist. “I started taking the classes and found out that I did not enjoy them. A new education program was being started based on humanism’s philosophy, rather than behaviorism in education. I applied for it and was accepted. I just caught on fire. I found out that this was really what I love doing.”
He fell in love with education, and while being there, he also found the love of his life: his wife. “We got married when I was 23, just out of college, and she was 21. She was a teacher as well, so during the summers we traveled around the country, and five years later we decided to have a family”. They had two daughters. The oldest is a playwright, an actress and a circus performer, and the younger daughter is a paralegal working for an intellectual property attorney. “They’re both very happy,” he joyfully mentioned.
His busy schedule, dedication, and devotion for his students sometimes meant he had to spend less time with his family. When his children were young, there were days her wife would bring them to school where he was principal and eat dinner in his office. They would go home, and he would continue working.
“My wife and two children allowed me to continue putting the 350,000 children ahead of them every year. My school kids came first. My school teachers and principals all came first. And that was okay for 47 years”. He got to a point where he looked himself in the mirror and reflected on how he significantly improved many children’s lives and how he changed the school district in many ways.
And said to himself: “I think it’s time to go home, let someone else run the store and go home for my wife and children, and be a dad and a husband again. That’s what happened in January.” It’s been eleven months, and now a new school board member for District 9 was elected. Tuesday, November 16, was his last day of being employed by M-DCPS. “The last day doing this amazing work. That is God’s work, on his honor, and that’s okay,” he added.
Dr. Larry will continue serving the community, the American people and defending the constitution, as he did all his life as a teacher. He got elected as president of the FBI Miami Citizens Academy Alumni Association, “and so I start in January, I will be spending a lot of my time working on that, building capacity, sharing social project, doing special things.” He certainly will be missed in the school district, but his mission and legacy will be intact.
Haz clic para leer en Español: Adiós al Dr. Larry Feldman después de 47 años sirviendo a las Escuelas Públicas