Diversity, Music, and Golf: Meet IA Administrator Carlos Gonzalez

Assistant Principal Tells All About International Academy Challenges and Solutions

Peerawut Ruangsawasdi

Staff Writer

After a long school day, Carlos Gonzalez, originally from Puerto Rico, works the bus loop alongside his fellow assistant principals. But working the bus loop is only one of the many day-to-day duties of this band-teacher-turned-assistant-principal.  

“My day-to-day job involves … it [has] got two big camps, two big buckets,” said Gonzalez, who supports the International Academy as one of the two assistant principals in academies 7 and 8. “It’s student support, and teacher support, and supervision. So my day-to-day job involves meeting with counselors and social workers to support the students who have any number of needs and I also meet with teachers and teacher teams as they discuss students and also teacher teams as they discuss the instruction of the classroom to support the students.” 

Gonzalez said the school’s support system is divided into tiers depending on the specific details of each case; the first tier being meetings between the content team, the disciplinary team, and teachers; the second and third tiers are cases in which students have more specific needs, and that the counselors and social workers and administrators “are more deeply involved in those conversations to make sure that we get the students where they … meeting the students where they are.”

As the assistant principal for the IA, diversity is one area that Gonzalez has had to face often. However, his experience in the area comes not only from his current position but also from his past experiences as a band teacher and director. 

Reflecting on his time as band director, he said he was really happy to have worked with talented, motivated, and diverse students. “We had students that were from different parts of the world, had been here at different amounts of time, and they all participated together to make music to do something positive together, regardless of … what part of town they’re from, or where they come from.”

He said his experiences as a band teacher and director tie into his duties as an assistant principal. “We talk a lot about, for example, performance-based assessments and the planning, with the end in mind, and also the collaboration, and just the attention, the individual responsibility … and all of that is present in a music classroom and it’s present in the classrooms that appear in the International Academy and throughout the school. So yes, definitely, it all lines right up.”

As a former band teacher, he had the opportunity to take his students to various major events. While managing trips such as the 2014 Sugar Bowl trip to a college football bowl game in New Orleans, Louisiana, where the band played a medley of Beatles songs, could be a difficult task, he said, it’s a memory “that I hope that the students carry with them for a long time, forever.”

“And then, when we hear the feedback from other trips, for example, there was a trip to Myrtle Beach that we took in the Spring, and when you hear the feedback from other professionals in the field, and the comments, that’s really nice to hear the positive comment,” said Gonzalez. “That always feels good, … to be recognized for the work that you’re doing, but also to hear different perspectives. It helps students grow, because [when] you hear the same thing from the same person in front of you, it sounds different when it comes from somebody else. So that’s why we take those educational trips.” 

The biggest challenge he has to face as an assistant principal, he said, is time. “There’s a lot to do and there can be a lot of need and it’s, I think, time is the [biggest challenge.]”

Time, however, is not the only challenge that he faces. Separation in the school, and the difficulty that some International students face when it comes to extracurricular activities, also pose challenges. “That is definitely one challenge, … there’s only limited space … I would add in addition to the time is that the constriction between the space available and the number of students that are here.”

 Gonzalez laid out the administration’s plans to tackle this problem.

“So we’re finding ways, creative ways, to grant newcomers access to these experiences that will help them be a part of the greater community is really important,” said Gonzalez. “So, that will involve some outside the box thinking and some planning and so what’s one of the things that’s really exciting … I’m on the educational design team that’s planning for the new Minnie Howard [campus] and the new interconnected high school network, so that will be part of the new network. [Those are] some different ways to expand opportunities for all students.”

Going into his tenth year at the school, Gonzalez said the biggest change “as from the administrator side, when I first started … was when Mr. Balas came back and there was a restructuring [process]. That was some pretty big change then [that I] was fortunate to be a part of.”

Gonzalez, a veteran educator, had always wanted to be a teacher. One of his role models was his German teacher Frau Hester, who was very influential in his life, as well as his supportive parents. 

Outside of playing music, he enjoys playing golf, although he’s “not very good at it.”  His favorite color is orange, and he enjoys jazz and classical music. Most recently, he said, he has been listening to jazz bassist Jaco Pastorius. He has a few quotes that he tries to go by, one of which is Mark Twain’s “You’re never wrong if you do the right thing.”

Peerawut Ruangsawasdi is a senior Theogony staffer who gave up on trying to set up a profile picture.