Amid countless hugs, handshakes and high-fives, Bryan Garcia said goodbye to Puesta del Sol Elementary Thursday afternoon, where he had served as principal for the last 11 years.
Garcia, wearing his familiar black PdS jersey with his name and 35 on the back, tried to hold back tears as he addressed the crowd of students gathered on the grass between two wings of the school, imploring them to follow their dreams and keep setting goals.
After his short farewell speech, he headed through what he termed a “fifth-grade wave,” two lines of students extending their hands for high-fives from their former beloved principal.
Prior to taking the stage and dancing with four former PdS students, Garcia said, “My fondest memories really center around the kids, and really the spirit and the climate and the pride that we built here at Puesta together, really about making sure that we meet the needs of the whole child.
“We’re in the business of making memories,” Garcia continued. “Yes, we are there to help our students be successful and productive citizens, and get the best test scores and everything else that we would like for them to have, but ultimately, we want them to build some memories that are going to help them be successful in life and help them realize their dreams and set goals that we would like for them to set.”
Garcia said he’d done just about everything needed at the school, but, “I think what I would have wanted to do is just really continue to build the character of the students — there are some areas in which we were just getting started. We implemented a program called the ‘Hero Builder’ that we’re still implementing today that I think is really going to support our campus and our culture and our climate even further. I wish Puesta the best in making the next step happen.”
As the 2018-19 school year began, Garcia was the interim principal at Manzano Mesa Elementary in Albuquerque.
“I’m really wanting to head in the direction of school leadership,” he said, “with aspirations for mentorship and supporting principals.
“One of the passions I have is parent and family community engagement, really helping schools become part of the community, serve the community in the most-important ways possible.”
PdS, he said, “has been a model for involving the parents and the community and the students and just being open and visible,” he said. “Really, I give credit to the families and the students and the staff of Puesta for preparing me for my next step.”