At a recent meeting with South Miami Middle School teachers, Juan Carlos Boué played an inspirational video he found on YouTube. The video got him teary eyed, as he held a dry starfish he now keeps in his office.
In the video, the tide was washing up dozens of starfish on the beach. A girl was running along the shore and tossing some back into the ocean to keep them from dying.
A man running by stopped to tie his shoe. He then stared at all of the starfish and said, You cant possibly make a difference.
The girl tossed another starfish. It made a difference for that one, she said.
Boué, 50, said he is hoping to follow the videos lesson and make a difference in the lives of 1,030 students, as the new principal of South Miami Middle School, 6750 SW 60th St.
I believe in them and know that if we continue to support them we can make the world a better place, Boué said. We are an A school. This group of students is talented. Already they have had one of the highest FCAT scores in the county.
After two decades of working for the Miami-Dade public school system, Boué said he has been preparing all of his life for his new job at the art magnet school, grades 6 through 8, which offers programs in dance, drama, broadcasting, visual arts, photography, band, orchestra and chorus.
He has an outstanding ability to lead. He knows how to set clear goals and how to get others to follow him, said James Haj, who was Boués boss at Southwest High School. He was a great asset to our school and will be just as great at South Miami Middle.
Boué, who was born in Cuba, credits his love of education to his parents.
In 1962, his family left Havana for New York City, and a year later moved to Miami. His mother, Norma Boué, found work as a school cafeteria manager, and his father, Angel Boué, worked for a painting company.
Neither of them went to college, and my dad did not graduate from high school, Boué said. They didnt have the opportunities that we had, so they put a high value on education.
Boué graduated from Coral Park High School in 1979 and signed up to study art at the University of Florida. After graduating in 1985, he opened his own graphic design business and named it B-Graphic.
A few of my students interviewed him for a news piece. It was nice to see him interact with them, South Miami Middle broadcast teacher Carmen Perez-Salman said. We are very excited to have some one with a creative background.
After getting married in 1990, he started his teaching career at Feinberg Fisher Community School in Miami Beach, helping Spanish-speaking students; and at Henry H. Filer Middle School in Hialeah as a graphic arts teacher.
In 1994, he left to teach at South Miami High. Soon after earning a masters degree in education at Nova Southeastern University in 1999, he was promoted to career specialist and administrative assistant of attendance and discipline, a position he held until 2002.
Miami-Dade regional superintendent and former Carol City High School principal Albert Payne Jr. is one of Boués mentors.
Boué worked under him as an assistant principal at Carol City from 2002 to 2005.
He is very structured and he digs deep into data, Payne Jr. said. He makes changes based on verifiable data, and he knows when to make a change and knows how to get the vision out to those who work under him.
Boué was also an assistant principal at Coral Park High School from 2006 to 2008, Southwest High School from 2009 to 2010, and Coral Park Adult Education Center until 2012.
This is the first time he is working as a school principal. At his new office at South Miami Middle, he has pictures of his family. They live in South Miami-Dade near The Falls.
His wife, Leticia Boué, is a paralegal turned jewelry designer. His son Christopher, 23, is a student at Palm Beach Community College. His daughter Genavieve, 16, is a student at Southwest High, likes to dance and was crowned Miss South Florida Teen USA last year. And his youngest son, Jean-Paul, 12, is a student at Palmetto Middle.
He cares about the students and has an eye for innovation and technology, Payne Jr. said.
Boué said he has a lot of ideas for the school. One of his goals is to bring more technology to help the students express themselves through music, film and photography.
Imagine leading a group of talented teachers and students, and that their goals in life and inspirations are exactly like yours, Boué said. Its a great feeling to be here. It really is a dream come true.