Category Archives: News

Hermano Eric Contreras Named Principal of Stuyvesant HS

New York, NY — July 2016

The new principal of the elite Stuyvesant High School will be Eric Contreras, a former teacher and head of the city Department of Education’s effort to revise its social studies curriculum.

Eric Contreras, 43 years old, has been tapped to lead the elite lower Manhattan public school. Credit: New York City Department of Education

Eric Contreras, 43 years old, has been tapped to lead the elite lower Manhattan public school. Credit: New York City Department of Education

Department officials plan to announce Monday that he will lead one of the city’s most competitive schools, which admits students based on a single exam score. Mr. Contreras, 43 years old, can approach the job with a parent’s perspective; his daughter graduated from Stuyvesant last month.

Raised by an immigrant single mother who worked as a housekeeper, Mr. Contreras spent his early years in Guatemala and started first grade in a Queens public school speaking little English. He said his mother took him to the library on Saturdays and once bought him a science encyclopedia she could barely afford to nurture his appetite for books.

“She put education first,” he said in an interview.

Mr. Contreras will take over a lower Manhattan school that faces criticism for its lack of diversity—only 4% of its students were black or Hispanic in 2014-15, according to city data. He said he would consider starting an intensive summer program on campus to prepare aspiring applicants, recruiting alumni as mentors and developing partnerships with middle schools that haven’t sent many students to Stuyvesant.

Before making changes, Mr. Contreras said he plans to consult with students, parents, staff and graduates. He alluded to the ancient philosopher Epictetus, who once said, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”

He also wants to make sure that Stuyvesant students get enough emotional help. “It’s a feverishly intellectual, ambitious environment and kids are excited to explore the possibilities,” he said. “It’s equally important that we provide the right supports when they find it overwhelming.”

With a bachelor’s degree from Binghamton University and a graduate degree in school administration from Long Island University, Mr. Contreras was a social studies teacher in the Bronx and Queens, and principal of the Queens High School of Teaching, Liberal Arts and the Sciences. City officials said he expanded Advanced Placement courses there, built partnerships with colleges and enhanced SAT preparation.

As executive director of social studies for the city Department of Education for the past two years, he led a team updating the curriculum to meet the state’s new expectations. With two sons in public schools in his Queens neighborhood, he said, he saw the results of that work “coming home in their backpacks, and that is deeply satisfying.” His wife is a school psychologist.

Mr. Contreras’s new salary of $149,604 will mark a pay cut from his previous one of $163,878, according to the education department. He succeeds principal Jie Zhang, who left this month after four years to become head of New York Military Academy, a private boarding school.

The article originally appeared on Written by Leslie Brody,

Hermano Dr. Cesar Cabrera Receives NFL Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award

Buffalo, NY — September 2015

Cesar CabreraThe Buffalo Bills have selected Dr. César Cabrera as the recipient of the NFL Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award.

The NFL and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF) have partnered for the fifth annual NFL Hispanic Heritage Leadership Awards during the 2015 celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. The awards recognize the contributions of Hispanic leaders in each NFL market.

The Bills honored Dr. Cabrera on Sunday, September 20 at their Hispanic Heritage game as they faced the New England Patriots.

Dr. Cabrera was born in the Dominican Republic and moved with his mother and two sisters to the United States when he was eight years old. Dr. Cabrera has held many roles in the political realm including his most recent appointment by Governor Andrew Cuomo as the New York State Department of Labor’s Commissioner’s Regional Representative. He has served as a director on numerous boards including Los Tainos Senior Citizens Center and the Hispanics United of Buffalo, and is one of the founders of La Prensa Hispana, a Hispanic monthly newspaper. The Buffalo News voted him one of Ten Emerging Twenty-Something Western New Yorkers in 1995 and he was named to the “40 Under Forty” honor roll by Buffalo Business First in 2002.

Each award recipient will select an organization of their choice that serves the local Hispanic community to receive a $2,000 donation.

Dr. Cabrera has chosen the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County to receive this donation.

The NFL celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month during week 3 of the season. A national spotlight was shone on the NFL’s celebration during Thursday Night Football, Sunday Night Football, and Monday Night Football.

About the Hispanic Heritage Foundation

The Hispanic Heritage Foundation is an award-winning nonprofit which inspires, identifies, prepares and connects Latino leaders in the classroom, community and workforce to meet America’s priorities. HHF also promotes cultural pride, accomplishment and the great promise of the community through public awareness campaigns seen by millions. For more information on the year-round, high-impact programs and work of HHF, including the Hispanic Heritage Awards, visit

This article originally appeared on

Hermano Victor Capellan Named Central Falls Schools Superintendent

Central Falls, Rhode Island — April 2015

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. — The Central Falls Board of Trustees has named Victor Capellan as the new superintendent, pending final approval by state Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist.
Capellan will replace Supt. Frances Gallo, who is retiring in June.

Capellan had served as deputy superintendent for transformation at Central Falls High School for four years and recently left the district to work for the nonprofit Mass Insight Education, a national education consulting firm.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome Victor back to lead our school district,” said board Chairwoman Anna Cano-Morales. “Victor played a critical role in transforming Central Falls High School and his deep connections with our staff, teachers, students, parents and wider community make him the ideal candidate to continue moving our school district forward.”
“Having worked next to Victor for years and seeing his dedication to improving our schools, I know that he will be an excellent superintendent,” Gallo said. “Victor was instrumental in implementing several successful transformation programs and community partnerships, and under his leadership as superintendent I know he will continue to improve results for all of our students.”
“I am humbled by the opportunity to serve as the next Superintendent of the Central Falls School District,” Capellan said in a prepared statement. “Following in the footsteps of Dr. Gallo and all that she has achieved for our students will be no easy task. But I learned from the best and I know that by working with our entire school community, we will continue the transformation of our schools so that all of our students receive the education they deserve and graduate ready for college and career success.”
If approved by Gist, Capellan will begin work as superintendent on June 29, and he’ll work closely with Gallo in the transition.
Mayor James A. Diossa said he has seen “Victor’s dedication to our students firsthand and I know that our community will welcome his leadership as the next superintendent of the Central Falls School District.”
“While I was a student at Central Falls High School, Victor played a big part in my success,” said David Hernandez, Central Falls High School valedictorian in 2012 who attends Brown University. “He believed in me and believed that our entire school could improve. I know that same dedicating and caring will make Victor a great superintendent and inspire Central Falls students to success.”

– Dan McGowan & Linda Borg

This article originally appeared on and

Hermano Dr. Pedro J. Santana Profiled For Hispanic Heritage Month

Galloway, NJ — October 2014

In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, the South Jersey Times is profiling members of the local Hispanic community who have made a difference in the lives of others.

Dr. Pedro J. Santana has dedicated his life to educating others and guiding them to their success.

Dr. Pedro J. Santana has dedicated his life to educating others and guiding them to their success.

With a firm belief that education is the key to a better tomorrow, to a tomorrow full of success, change, and fulfilled dreams, it’s no wonder that Dr. Pedro J. Santana has dedicated his life to educating others and guiding them to their success.

And it is through those successes that Santana finds his.

“I’m very fortunate that by what I’ve done and what I’ve been able to do has gotten me to my dreams,” said Santana.

“But I’m even more fortunate because by living my dreams I can make a difference and challenge others, like I’ve been challenged, to work hard and start living their dreams, too.”

His aspirations of educating and guiding have pushed him to work hard and because of this and his drive to help others Santana is one of four South Jersey residents being presented with the Puerto Rican Action Committee of Southern New Jersey’s Lifetime Achievement Award on Oct. 24.

“I’m so humbled to have won this and I will accept this knowing it is a great responsibility,” said Santana.

“There were people supporting me every step of the way and they created the spark that drove me to deserve this. I’ve done this through my education and education is really a magical thing.”

Santana currently serves as the Dean of Students at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey making him responsible for the leadership of programs that provide support and services to a student body composed of 8,500, both graduate and undergraduate.

Santana’s drive to help others succeed and driving force behind getting so heavily involved with education was an experience during his college career.

“I had this wonderful educational opportunity counselor who guided me, provided unconditional support and challenged me, all while mentoring me in the right direction,” said Santana. “At the end of my college experience I said to myself ‘That’s what I’m going to do.'”

Santana did his research and found out what he needed to do to make it a reality.

“From that point, it was all I wanted to do — work with people and help them to achieve their goals and reach their dreams,” said Santana.

While at Stockton College he has dedicated much time to providing oversight in the expansion of the college’s Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) program.

The EOF program is designed to serve students from economically and academically challenged areas. The program has grown and flourished in such a way that it is nationally recognized and serves as a model for schools of New Jersey.

“Education is a true equalizer and it allows individuals to transform not only themselves but their communities and the future as well,” said Santana. “The EOF program gives more students the ability to do that and work to achieve their dreams.”

Although Santana currently holds a high administrative position he remains grounded in the classroom by still holding teaching positions at Stockton College’s School of Business and at the Wilmington University College of Business.

Santana has taught courses in Organizational Behavior and Business Management among others.

In order to achieve his goals of educating others and helping students to achieve their dreams, Santana went through many years of schooling received his doctorate in Business Administration from Wilmington University, a master’s degree in Student Personnel administration from Buffalo State College, and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and American Studies from the University at Buffalo and a master of master’s degree in Organizational Management from Eastern Connecticut State University.

In addition to his degrees, Santana has received numerous awards and honors. He has received the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators award, New Professional of the Year in the state of Connecticut, 2006 Advisor of the Year, and the Stockton Community Engagement Award.

Santana has also participated in multiple executive leadership development programs including a year-long Leadership New Jersey Fellows program and the Executive Leadership Academy, a year long program sponsored by the Council of Independent Colleges.

Santana’s awards and achievements are a testament to the hard work and efforts he puts in to bettering the community and the lives of countless students.

Santana uses a quote by Winston Churchill to explain his efforts and work ethic.

Churchill said: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

“We all need to view the world as an optimist because that means seeing the world through the eyes of hope and chance and that’s how I want to see things,” said Santana. “Looking at the world as an optimist makes insurmountable goals obtainable.”

Santana will be given the 2014 PRAC Lifetime Achievement Award with Mayra Arroyo, Andres Lopez and Lucy Jimenez at the PRAC of Southern New Jersey 2014 Gala on Oct. 24 at the Running Deer Golf Club in Pittsgrove Township.

“There is always an opportunity to work and to make a difference and that’s what winning this means, it means moving the needle in a positive direction,” said Santana.

“We all have great days and not so great days, but it’s still a day that we’re given. We should all take that day, count our blessings, and work towards making dreams come true.”

– Caitlyn Stulpin, Staff Writer
This article originally appeared on

Kappa Chapter Unites Yale in Response to Hate

New Haven, CT — October 2014

When Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway penned an Oct. 13 email to students about swastikas found chalked onto a campus sidewalk, he implored students to stand together as a community. “There is no room for hate in this house,” Holloway wrote.

Yale senior Javier Cienfuegos and friends took those words to heart and turned the graffiti’s message completely on its head, creating a powerful mural communicating support for Jewish students and diversity in the Ivy League school’s community.

Students work on mural.

Students work on mural.

Though school officials had the swastikas mostly scrubbed from the sidewalk by Oct. 13, some faint outlines remained. So Cienfuegos and fraternity brothers William Genova and Sebastian Medina-Tayac set to work that night outside the freshman residence hall where the graffiti had been drawn, washing away the remaining outlines with dish soap and Lysol.

Word of their effort spread via a Facebook post by Cienfuegos.

Soon, a large group was covering the sidewalk with words of love and support. Hearts, peace signs and Stars of David dotted the pavement. At their center was the blue Yale “Y” and Holloway’s words from the email in big bubble letters: “There’s no room for H8 in this house.”

Yale Swastika Mural

“I think it was my way of telling people that I don’t care if it was an idiotic prank or a hoax, this kind of thing isn’t okay on my campus,” Cienfuegos told The Huffington Post.

“It shows how much Yalies appreciate the diversity that this campus has,” Genova said of the effort. “At the end of the day, Yale really celebrates that, and students really come together. We don’t just respect it, we encourage it, and we thrive off this.”

He says that as the re-chalking of the sidewalk stretched into early morning, as many as 75 students came and added to the mural. According to Cienfuegos, so many people joined in that they had to get more chalk midway through.

“Our community felt a contagious wave of love, and it swept across the entirety of Durfee’s walkway,” wrote Cienfuegos in a Facebook post about the finished mural. “We will turn their hate into love, and we invite all Yalies, whoever you are, to join our crusade.”

Check out more photos of the students’ powerful mural below.

LUL Yale Mural

Student with Yale Mural

Yale Student Mural

Anne Frank Yale Mural

– Cate Matthews
This article originally appeared on

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