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July 2016 Member Spotlight - Alberto M. Carvalho

Alberto M. Carvalho
Superintendent
Miami-Dade County Public Schools; ALAS Board Member

Career Highlights & Education – A career in education was not among my dreams as I was growing up. But I did dream of relocating to the United States from my native Portugal, and I did that at the age of 17, working in a variety of low-skilled jobs, at times homeless and broke, until the American Dream came to me, and a real-life angel introduced me to the most important career-builder in my life, college and higher education.  When I became a teacher, I thought I had achieved the ultimate success, that I had arrived!  Twenty-six years later, after moving on to many more “ultimates,” the most outstanding of them is the opportunity to serve 350,000 students and their families every day, helping make their dreams—whether defined or still waiting to be developed—into reality.

What I like best about my job is the opportunity to transform children’s lives by providing them with the best possible education so they can become lifelong learners and productive citizens. The ability to work alongside the best team of educators in the country who work tirelessly to ensure every child has a chance to succeed, regardless of where they come from, their zip code or their family’s income level.

The best advice I’ve ever received is “do your homework.”  It means much more than completing your math problems as a student.  It means doing your research when a challenge presents itself, seeing all sides of a problem, learning the viewpoints of everyone who is affected, seeing how others have handled similar situations, and looking for solutions to overcome an obstacle.   

The advice I would give a new superintendent or school district leader is to maintain open lines of communication with all your stakeholders – students, parents, educators, community partners, and business leaders. They all play a vital role and engaging with them is essential to the success of our schools and the community as a whole.   

If I ever snuck out early, you could probably find mevisiting kids at our local homeless shelters. I want them to know that they can dream big, that they should not be limited by their current circumstances.  America is a magical place where those dreams can come true. 

People would be surprised to know that on one of our exceptional Florida sunshine days, you just might find me on my paddleboard for a day of reflection on Biscayne Bay.

One thing I wish more people knew about ALAS: It’s an organization that has unlimited potential to help people across the United States. Miami-Dade and other large, urban districts have years of experience providing opportunities for Latino students, but many school districts are now faced with enrolling new Latino students and don’t have the resources in place to help these kids, many of whom arrive here without family or funds. ALAS personnel can make the transition easier for those school districts and ultimately, easier for these deserving children.