GOULDS (CBSMiami) – Raul Garcia might be thinking he needs to be more careful about the promises he makes. The Goulds Elementary School principal is not exactly dressed for success, sporting a Mohawk haircut died green, all to keep a promise made to his students.

Garcia sat for the clippers Wednesday in in the cafeteria, after his students and faculty did something others believed was impossible in a school with as many disadvantaged students as they have in Goulds. Garcia had challenged them to raise the school’s state grade from a D to an A. Last year, he made a second challenge.

” I made our third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade a promise that if the school made an A which is the second consecutive year they are an A, I would get a Mohawk,” he said.

This spring, the new school grades came out, and at the top of the list was Goulds Elementary, with an A, the second year in a row.

Wednesday, Garcia made good on his promise.

As students clapped and teachers cheered, a barber took his clippers to the principal’s bean, and off came the hair. As Mohawks go, it was pretty tame, but what happened next was anything but.

Garcia’s head was doused with green dye, in keeping with the school’s colors.

He looked a bit like a leprechaun with an attitude, but the students loved it.

“The Mohawk was the motivation but I think in this school we push our students to be the very best,” Garcia said. “The Mohawk was just the cherry on the ice cream sundae.”

The accomplishment is sweet because schools in poor neighborhoods often don’t perform well. If they get a failing grade a few years in a row, the school can be closed, staff reassigned, or students moved. Schools in area where families have more money often have an easier time making the grade. That didn’t stop Garcia from making his challenge.

“Ninety-eight percent of our students are economically disadvantaged but 100% of our staff are committed to learning gains amongst our students,” he said.

The are 5 failing schools in Miami-Dade, and 14 schools with a D Grade. Goulds Elementary now joins the ranks of the 146 elementary schools with an A grade.

Now, Garcia has the job of keeping the school there, and is already looking for his next challenge while his hair grows back.

  1. Remembering says:

    Kudos to Goulds Elementary School! This proves that the issue in these so called “poorer” districts is simply motivation. The school sytem needs to stop the dilly-dallying with politics and focus on motivation for the students and teachers. Intelligence is in all neighborhoods regardless of the median income. I attended school in Goulds many years ago and I give credit to the hard work and bold efforts of my teachers. You are never forgotten!

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