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A Conversation with José Enriquez

THE BREAKTHROUGH COACH: Can you tell us a little about your background?

JOSE ENRIQUEZ: I have a B.A. in Social Studies Education and an M.S. in Educational Leadership, both from Florida International University. I was a classroom teacher for 7 years, beginning in 1989, in both middle school and high school, and spent 10 years as an assistant principal in two different middle schools.

TBC: Jose Marti Middle School is very special for you - part of your "legacy", isn't it?

JE: Yes. Both of my parents were in education. My mother was a teacher and my father, who started as a teacher, became a coach and then a principal. He opened Jose Marti MS as its first principal, so I am carrying on a family tradition!

TBC: By the time you became principal of Jose Marti, you'd been an administrator for a long time. What was different about this new experience?

JE: When I was an assistant principal, all of my duties were specifically assigned - there were no surprises. As a principal, that wasn't true and I found myself reacting instead of acting, as each day brought unexpected problems. Furthermore, I had to handle a heavy load of requests from the district and regional offices, including an extensive number of weekly briefings. I spent far too many nights at work and, although I enjoyed getting to know the night staff really well, I found that I had no time to pull back and see the big picture. When one of my district directors invited me to attend TBC's two-day seminar, I accepted.

TBC: Was there a particular point during the seminar at which you realized that the TBC management methodology could work for you?

JE: It was almost immediate - during the first hour, actually. Malachi Pancoast's examples were really powerful, and the structure he laid out for the seminar itself proved his point.

TBC: What challenges have you faced as you implement TBC's program?

JE: For one thing, I had to train my secretary to manage me - a kind of role reversal for her! One must be patient to make this work. I'm aware when I go off track, but remembering Malachi's examples helps keep me focused. I especially remember that he said TBC's methodology takes 1 year to learn and 3 years to master. You have to give it time and fine-tune as you go along.

TBC: Your graduate degree is in Educational Leadership. How did TBC's methodology differ from your graduate experience?

JE: My college work was all theoretical. It didn't provide any organizational models for day-to-day operation of a school. TBC showed me very specifically how I could run my school more effectively and make time to get out into the classrooms for two full days every week. It's simply amazing what I discover and accomplish during those two days!

TBC: For example?

JE: Well, there are the little things I see and can attend to before they become big problems. I might be in a classroom and see something potentially dangerous, like a piece of broken furniture. I can take out my BlackBerry and alert my staff right away. On a broader level, though, it's the big picture where the impact of just being there is most profound - there's no getting away from the impetus of what I call "command presence." When I'm there everybody works better.

TBC: You mention the big picture. How has that changed over the three years you've been using TBC management methodology?

JE: Last year, our second "TBC year," our school had tremendous gains in mathematics, science and reading. Jose Marti has moved from a C to a B in the State of Florida's Grading Accountability System. That big picture just keeps getting better!


José Enriquez, Principal

Jose Marti Middle School
Miami, FL