Carlos Beato was nominated by his colleague and last year's LifeChanger of the Year Grand Prize Winner, Keishia Thorpe.
Mr. Beato was born in a small, poor town in the Dominican Republic. His mother instilled in him core beliefs about the value of hard work and education at an early age. His mother moved with him to New York City at the age of five and has been very influential in his life, along with his teachers and Posse mentor at Middlebury College.
School posed many obstacles for Mr. Beato, and his educational experience in the United States was met with many challenges because he was a second language learner. This caused him to miss out on many opportunities that were available for other students because of his classification as an English Language Learner (ELL) and his undocumented status. However, this did not deter him from pursuing his education and becoming salutatorian in both his middle and high school graduation. As a first-generation student, he wanted to carry out the dream of his mother. This led him to earning a Posse scholarship, and he attended Middlebury College.
His struggles became pronounced when he was in high school and tried to apply for scholarships for which he knew he met all the requirements and was clearly eligible for, but for which his undocumented status posed a barrier to access. Mr. Beato was motivated more than ever to further his education in college, but would still experience barriers which made him unable to participate in study and travel abroad programs at first. He never gave up hope, and one day, his life drastically changed while at Middlebury College. He was able to get connected with the right people, who helped him to get an adjusted legal status in a short time, something his family tried to get for him for over 10 years.
Mr. Beato's main goal to study abroad was to learn more about the different school systems. He knew he wanted to go into the teaching profession after all the years he witnessed and observed many indifferences and inequalities and lack of opportunities for students like himself. He wanted to make a change the for generations behind him, so he became a New York Teaching Fellow. Shortly afterwards, he became a founding teacher at a new school close to the neighborhood in which he grew up in the Bronx. The school consisted of all immigrant students. He wanted to help them transition successfully through high school and into college, so he worked very hard to help every student in his school's first graduating class transition successfully into college. He was instrumental in giving students who experienced barriers to education, just like he did, a fair chance to be successful.
Early in his career, Mr. Beato had an impact on the lives of his students through his teaching. Later, he became an administrator, because he wanted to be able to advocate more for students and provide the necessary resources they need to succeed in their lives. Ultimately, Mr. Beato decided to start a school because of his passion for the kind of education ELLs receive.
When he got the opportunity to open a school mainly geared to serving English Language Learners, he jumped on it. He became the Founding Principal for International High School Langley Park. This, too, was another hurdle for him. Mr. Beato moved from New York to start his school because it was in a community of people that needed this opportunity for their children. It was very much a community of people he could identify with - mostly Hispanic. The DC area has had a large influx of immigrants from Central America, so he saw a need where he could not only help students, but also help the communities and families there to grow. He took on the challenge of working with the community, which has been very disadvantaged in so many ways and for such a long time. He brought his experience and skill set to the county and operated under the core belief that “every student is able to learn, no matter what. As long as you provide the appropriate support and present opportunities where kids had not had them before, kids rise to the occasion and shine and meet and surpass people's expectations.”
Mr. Beato wanted to change the rhetoric around how people view English-Language Learners, which is from a deficit perspective. He lives by Nelson Mandela's philosophy that, “education is the most powerful thing that can change the world." His students view him as very compassionate, empathetic, and a good listener. Most of the students in his school have gone through trauma, PTSD, and reunification, so having those qualities associated with him is admirable. Every day, he teaches students to not take things for granted and the value of the education they are receiving.
Mr. Beato is constantly advocating for his students when it comes to trying to get a new building so they can access education the same way other students in his county do. Currently, his students and teachers don't have adequate resources. However, he has empowered his teachers, students, and parents to stand on the frontline of every Board of Education meeting, speaking out for social justice and the right to have a building that will better prepare the students for college and careers. Despite all of these struggles, Mr. Beato is very present, working with the school community and teachers inside the old buildings, which sometimes get very hot on hot days and colder on cold days. He looks at the bigger picture because his goal is to make sure all the English-Language Learners are able to be proficient speakers of English when they graduate. This year, Mr. Beato graduated the first group of seniors from his school.
While managing the daily operations of a new school and taking on its enormous challenges with a special population of students, Mr. Beato is at the end of his Doctoral studies. He is a doctoral student studying Cultural Responsive Practice in the Classroom, especially for Latino and Latina students, at the University of Maryland. In his school district, it is a huge undertaking, and his county also has a low percentage of English Language Learners graduating high school on time or at all. When Mr. Beato founded his school four years ago, only 46% of students in the county were graduating on time and within that, a small percentage of Latino students. He has been relentless in making sure students show up every day to a warm and welcoming environment, regardless of their struggles. As such, he has achieved over 93% attendance rate for all four years the school has been in operation. Out of the 71 senior students among the school's first class, 68 graduated. The other three students will be completing their credits over the summer with the hopes of graduating. Essentially, this would be the largest group of Latino, Latina, and Hispanic students that the county has graduated. The graduating class has also been offered over $6.7 million in merit awards to colleges and universities.
Some off Mr. Beato's big accomplishments are that he was a Pahara Next GEN Fellow, which is a program that selects education professionals who are innovating and working to close achievement gaps. Under his leadership, his small school’s soccer team has also surpassed expectations in the county for a new school competing with the best schools in the county. The team has been regional champions for two years in a row and has made it to the semi-final rounds. The track team has also been quite successful, making it to cross country and track and field state championships and being crowned regional champions as well. Under his leadership, Keishia Thorpe was named LifeChanger of the Year 2018-2019 Grand Prize Winner, and Christine Gilliard was a Teacher of the Year Finalist for the county. His students dominated the school county’s board awards for community service, come-back kid, artist student of the year, academic excellence, and leadership award. Even though he could not have done this by himself, he has hand-picked a team of teachers and staff whom he leads in such a way as to make sure all the students are successful.
Today, Mr. Beato is living his American dream. He wants to be the example he is trying to instill in his students. He says that living and breathing the American dream is the only way he can show them it is possible. This is exactly why Mr. Beato is a LifeChanger.