A good school can make an enormous impact on a neighborhood. When Barbara Goleman High School opened in Miami Lakes in 1995, its students got to work on a campaign to build a bridge over I-75 on 87th Avenue, and they got it done. That began the school’s tradition of community service.
"That’s probably one of the most satisfying, one of the proudest things that I love about this school, how our students, it’s not just take, it’s go ahead and let me see what I can do for the community and for others," said principal Joaquin Hernandez, who started at Goleman as a teacher and is now running the place.
The school has a variety of magnet and choice programs, including the AP Capstone. It attracts the highest level students, the ones who aspire to attend the nation’s most selective colleges. However, Goleman does something unique: it admits a select group of students into the Capstone program who show ambition but don’t have the grades to otherwise be accepted. The idea is to give those kids a chance to excel and rise to the level of their peers, and Hernandez says it’s working, and mainly because the higher achieving students tend to help them along.
The newest program at Goleman is called National Security Intelligence. It’s a full-scale criminal justice program led by a former career FBI agent. Students hone their critical and analytical thinking skills as they learn to investigate crimes, working collaboratively like real detectives do.
So what’s it like for former FBI veteran Nelson Barbosa to go from tracking down kidnappers in the Colombian jungle to teaching high school kids in Miami Lakes?
"I think it’s thrilling in the sense that it gives me the opportunity to kind of pass to a new generation of students that I’m hoping will one day consider similar fields, like becoming an FBI agent or law school or whatever they feel is related to criminal justice," said Barbosa.
The biggest industry in the state of Florida is tourism. That’s why the magnet program in Tourism and Hospitality management is so popular. It’s a four-year program in which the kids can get college credit. They do a summer internship in the field, and they do field trips to learn the industry from all sides.
“We call them experiential learning activities, we’ve gone anywhere from New York City to the Miami Seaquarium to the Intercontinental in Downtown Miami, we tend to do one or two every quarter to get them out in the industry,” said teacher Laura Diaz-Rodriguez.
There’s a lot going on at the home of the Goleman Gators, which are, by the way, maybe the only Gators who wear garnet and gold.