March is Women’s History Month and we are commemorating women all over South Florida. One of them is Ana Garcia, the principal of Monsignor Edward Pace High School in Miami Gardens, who has been leading the school for 17 years, even during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
She graduated from Pace in 1980 and obtained a degree in special education from Miami-Dade College and Florida International University. Afterward, she worked in Miami-Dade Public Schools for 17 years before returning to her alma mater.
“The objective of me coming back to Pace was to train the teachers and establish programs for kids of all levels, all the way from gifted and honors students to the kids who struggle academically/have special needs,” said Garcia.
After that, she served as an administrator, beginning as an assistant principal. When the role of principal was up for grabs, she was hesitant to apply at first.
“I had always felt that my most important role in life was to be a mom and wife, and I loved my job but wasn’t looking to move up the ranks,” said Garcia.
Fast-forward 17 years to last school year, when the pandemic hit. Pace closed and everything shifted to virtual learning from March to June 2020. Garcia noted the transition was made a lot easier by the fact that Pace was an “iPad school,” meaning that the kids already used technology in the classroom to turn in assignments, complete their homework, etc. However, when it came time to reopen, everything had to be shifted, with only 15% of the school’s student population attending class in-person, according to Garcia.
“We had to find a way to allow kids to come on campus safely, keep the teachers safe, and develop a plan to teach kids face-to-face and virtually at the same time,” said Garcia.