Miami-Dade County

Miami-Dade Schools Hall of Fame welcomes seven inductees

Robert Battle, artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Robert Battle, artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Miami Herald File

It’s back-to-school time for a number of successful alumni of Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

The inspiring group of seven dedicated individuals will be inducted into the Miami-Dade Schools Hall of Fame at the second-annual reception Friday evening at Miami Senior High School, 2450 SW First St.

Honorees include Robert Battle, artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. (deceased), federal judge; tennis legend Gardnar Mulloy; Henry Edward Roberts (deceased), inventor of the first personal computer; U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen; Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer and a board member of Facebook; and U.S. Rep. Frederica S. Wilson.

“These outstanding alumni represent the very best that our community has to offer this country,” Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho said in an email. “They are professionals who have excelled in various fields, including business, sports, government and the arts, and they all have one thing in common: they graduated from Miami-Dade County Public Schools."

The surviving honorees will revisit their fondest memories from school at the ceremony and share how their teachers and classes played a role in their success.

Battle, who now lives in New York, looks forward to his return Friday to the school system where he was first found his love of dance. He began dancing while at Miami Northwestern Senior High School and later graduated from the New World School of the Arts in Miami.

“It is great to be recognized by the community that raised you in a way,” Battle said.

Throughout his dance career, he has thought of the teachers who championed his talent growing up. One of those teachers, Adelaide Munez, will be in attendance at the ceremony. Munez taught Battle ballet and would take him to dance classes after school.

“My career is about trying to make those people who invested their time and energy in me proud,” Battle said.

For Ros-Lehtinen, a former educator, the recognition has added significance. She graduated from Southwest Miami High School and later became a teacher and then principal of a private bilingual elementary school in Hialeah.

“For an educator, this is the equivalent of an actress winning an Academy Award,” Ros-Lehtinen said.

When Ros-Lehtinen was in school, she never envisioned that her career would take her to Washington, but she credits her education with giving her the tools to succeed in a variety of fields.

“You never know where life is going to take you so the best thing you can have is a solid education so you are in good position no matter where you end up,” Ros-Lehtinen said.