MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A new era is about to begin at Miami-Dade County Public Schools as Dr. Jose Dotres takes over as Superintendent for Alberto Carvalho, who is leaving to take the post at Los Angeles Schools.

Dotres is currently a Deputy Superintendent in Collier County, but has a long history as a student, educator and administrator in Miami-Dade.

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He was chosen by the Board in a 6-3 vote late Monday night.

Dotres says one of the biggest challenges he’s facing in his new role is combatting learning loss and the need to accelerate learning for kids to help get them to where they need to be academically, all while balancing social, economic and mental health factors.

It’s no simple feat, and in a one-on-one interview with CBS 4’s Lauren Pastrana, he explained there are some aspects that have him worried.

“I don’t think it can get anymore complex,” Dotres said of the challenges ahead.

“In Miami-Dade the challenge is a great one. It is great because of the many different pockets. The complexity of the city, of the community. And then where some schools lie in the additional resources that are needed,” he said.

“The big, big challenge is making sure that we are on top of and very diligent and making sure we are providing the appropriate instructional strategies and the appropriate instructional supports for students to not only grow academically but in many areas catch up in the learning that they’ve lost.”

Dr. Dotres knows the road ahead won’t be easy, and admittedly, it wasn’t a road he thought he’d be on.

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“This wasn’t in my horizon per se, because I did not think this would have been an opportunity in Dade. I’ve worked many, many years in the school district, in many different capacities, and I moved over to Collier to have a broader impact on the school district as the deputy superintendent,” he said.

Dotres said he’s honored and excited for the challenges ahead, which include training and retaining skilled teachers, many who are feeling overworked and undervalued and leaving the profession in high numbers.

“That is one very powerful question and one that sits at the center of what I’ve been doing for a very, very long time which is, ‘Are we working with teachers effectively to help them retain them and keep them as teachers in the school district?’ There’s an opportunity to provide grace and really help them. I can tell you that that has been my piece of work that I have done for several years on the Human Resources side. I am worried. I am worried about the profession,” Dotres said.

He went on to say, “Teachers need to feel valued. Teachers need to feel that we are supporting them. Salaries have become an important issue. Whether teachers are part of their midyear career or veterans. We have to value what they’re doing. Teachers are not only teaching right now. They’re doing so much more. They look out for their health. They’re watching out for their mental health. It’s about the whole child. And if we as leaders don’t lift their importance and bring value to what they’re doing and showcase it to the community, we are not doing service to them.”

He says he’s open to listening and learning in order to best serve the students.

“I come with the greatest disposition to work hard on behalf of students. To work hard on behalf of families that I know so well, the different communities that are in Miami,” Dr. Dotres said. “And then become extremely supportive of teachers and school leaders that are at the forefront of what’s occurring day in and day out in every single school across the community.”

Over the last two years, local school districts have had a bit of a contentious relationship with the Governor’s office regarding mask mandates and the alleged teaching of critical race theory. Dr. Dotres notes the tensions, but says he will work to do what is best for students and teachers.

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“Interestingly enough, we’ve been working here in Collier on that particular issue. It’s being impacted across the state. The best way to approach it is we have to listen. We have to be sensitive. But we have to understand our community as well,” he said. “We have to be able to articulate very well-developed thoughts and ideas of what is important for our students and what is important for our teachers and providing the opportunity for teaching to really unfold in its most natural setting. And them sometimes, demystify, or claim, or better disclaim things that are communicated that are not right or factual in nature.”

Lauren Pastrana