[dropcap]S[/dropcap]tudents, staff, faculty and parents welcomed new principal Jesus Gonzalez to Palmetto Middle School on Mar. 4.
Gonzales replaces outgoing principal John Lux who has accepted the role of principal at Miami Sunset High. A graduate of Barry University with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, master’s in Elementary Education from Florida International University, and Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University, this is Gonzalez’s first time being appointed principal.
“I’m extremely honored that I was found to be a good match for the school and given the opportunity,” Gonzalez said. “I feel it’s a great privilege just to be here working for this community and these students, serving them and helping to take it to the next level.”
Gonzalez’s more than two decades of work within Miami-Dade County’s public school system has provided him with a well-rounded understanding of its inner workings and needs.
He began his career in after-school care at Kenwood Elementary and, in enjoying his work with the children there, decided it was what he wanted to do as his life’s work. Following an internship as a teacher’s assistant at Vineland Elementary, he took his first teaching job at Coral Gables Elementary where he stayed for 14 years — first teaching Spanish and, later, fourth and fifth grade gifted classes. When the opportunity for a temporary promotion to assistant principal arose at Coral Way K- 8, he took it, substituting for an existing assistant principal’s maternity leave. He opened the school and was out by April, when she returned.
“One of my biggest strengths is how much time I’ve spent in the classroom,” he said. “I was a teacher for 14 years, so I really understand what it is to be in a daily routine of classroom requirements, student interactions and testing. I believe it gives me a very solid foundation in understanding the day-to-day workings of a school and what it feels like to be in the classroom, adhering to the educational requirements students need to succeed.”
His short work at Coral Way K- 8 paid off and he was offered an assistant principal position at Jane S. Roberts K-8. Unfortunately, budget cuts forced him out.
“I was the last one in, so I was the first one out,” he said.
He took a step back, working as a reading coach at Ada Merritt K-8 for a short time before accepting an assistant principal position at Zelda Glazer Middle School. This time the job stuck. He spent six and a half years there and was involved in the school’s transition into a magnet program for the performing arts and from a K-8 into sixth through 12th grade center.
However, when he heard Palmetto Middle was going to need a new principal, he applied immediately.
“This is a very successful school — an ‘A’ school — and I am extremely happy to be here to help the community not only within the school itself, but outside of it as well,” he said. “I very much have an open door policy, so if anyone wants to see or meet with me, I want them to feel free to do so — whether it’s calling and setting up an appointment or just stopping by the office. I plan to be as accessible as possible.”
For information, visit www.palmettomiddleschool.org.