The St. Louis Catholic Church Covenant School has a new principal for the first time since its inception in 1997.
Edward “Eddy” Garcia, who won the Archdiocese of Miami’s principal of the year award in 2009 as principal of Hialeah’s Immaculate Conception Catholic School, has become head of the school, a position held for 21 years by his predecessor Christine Mathisen.
Garcia’s son Bryan completed his pastoral year at St. Louis’s parish and will enter the seminary hoping to become an ordained priest in the next two years.
Although Garcia has only begun to implement his vision for the school, he says the community has welcomed him warmly.
“I’ve had a number of parents, teachers and fellow administrators who have reached out to me with open arms,” Garcia says. “I loved my prior community – that was my family – and I hope to have another family here throughout the years.”
Born in Miami in 1962, he attended Immaculate Conception – the school he would later preside over as principal – before attending and graduating from Monsignor Edward Pace High School where he met his wife, Ana. Coincidentally, she now serves as principal there.
Though his passion was always education, both he and his wife couldn’t make a living doing it while raising their three children, Jenise, Bryan and Steven. Garcia earned a business degree at Miami-Dade College and worked as a customer service representative for Southern Bell for 13 years. When the company was broken up, he earned his bachelor’s degree in education specific learning disabilities from the Union Institute in Cincinnati and worked as a teacher at Glades Middle school teaching exceptional students while pursuing a degree in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern.
“The essence of learning disabilities teaching is that all children have the right to learn and I believe that we all learn differently,” he says. “Some of us are diagnosed and some of us aren’t, but basically it’s a system of strengths and weaknesses and discovering those strengths; changing some of those barriers, is just fascinating to me.”
Technology has never been as prevalent or widely available as it is today and Garcia believes it is important for students, teachers and parents to embrace it. St. Louis had already begun to apply digital technology before he arrived, however it is his goal to allow teachers to continue to use traditional books in their classes and that they can develop and share their curriculums.
“Our guidelines are, like all schools, based on the common core, but creating that digital curriculum is very important in preparing our children for the working society,” he says.
“When you have the kids in kindergarten, you’ll still provide them with hands-on activity, but you will have an iPad cart where kids will have different activities integrating that technology so as they move on they will have been exposed to it and it will become a natural transition.”
Garcia also has been tasked with making the school more visible through various social involvements and events within the community and the church’s parish.
“We have students that finish here and go into neighboring high schools’ honor programs and receive credit for the level of education they receive here, and that’s our goal, to make sure that they are prepared,” he says. “We will be implementing programs over the next year to give kids additional credit in multiple areas so that they have that edge of arriving in high school able to move ahead to the dual enrollment and AP levels of their education.”
For more information, go to www.stlcatholic.org