By Leonard Rodriguez

This column highlights inspiring stories of Latino leaders. For more than 500 years, Latino men and women have positively influenced the face of United States society. Let us celebrate these outstanding hispanics.

Octavio J. Visiedo

Following the resignation of New York School Chancellor Ramon Cortinas in 1995, Octavio J. Visiedo became the nation’s highest-ranking Hispanic superintendent. Overseeing America’s fourth-largest school district, Dade County Public Schools in Florida, Visiedo began his career in 1971 as a bus aide. In 1990, at age 39, Visiedo assumed the superintendency. A visionary leader, he guided the district through its worst-ever funding crisis without laying off a single employee. He introduced “full service” programs to provide education and on-campus assistance to low-income families, expanded pre-kinder programs and upgraded classroom technology. By 1995, student test scores posted enormous gains in nearly every grade level, school, subject and ethnic group.