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Meet Principal Ralph Garza

Ralph Garza loved numbers and believed he had a future in mathematics. To get some practical experience, a friend recommended Ralph volunteer helping kids. He was assigned to a fourth-grade classroom and recalls how one particular encounter changed the course of his professional life. “I was helping a student who was really struggling with math when he said, ‘Wow! You’re really good. How long have you been a teacher?’ I thought, ‘Wow, he’s a child and I’m an adult, how should I know any better?! He should be the one to know!’ So I decided to switch my degree.”

Ralph went on to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies, and Master’s in Curriculum Instruction and Educational Leadership, all from universities in Texas. He taught a variety of classes there in grades four to eight for 10 years and then moved to Michigan. For the past 13 years, he’s served as dean, assistant principal, and principal with several NHA schools in the area, but he is excited to take over as principal in his own town of Farmington.

According to Ralph, education provides limitless opportunities for children. His philosophy hinges on the idea that every child is capable — they just need to be given the right opportunities. “I’m very passionate about making sure children have a better chance at life — and I believe every kid has hope. These aren’t just my students, they’re my children. I look at them and think, ‘Is this good enough for my own child?’ And if it’s not, I get to work at making it better.”

Ralph appreciates NHA’s approach to education, because it dovetails into his own values. “I believe in the mission to better educate more children. I believe in leading by example, by being open, honest, and transparent. I think education is a way to end poverty and other social issues that we’re facing today. I love National Heritage Academies because of the moral focus curriculum. I’ve seen how it can change a school. And I’m very proud of my team. The successes we’ve had over the years aren’t about me. We work together to provide a better alternative to parents and families. As a leader, I believe that if you find the strengths in people and start to cultivate them, you’ll see major gains. The success of a child isn’t just on them — it’s the triangle of parents, children, and school. Incidentally, a triangle is the strongest shape in the universe.”

Ralph is married and has three boys. The oldest just started his freshman year of college, and the baby will attend Young 5s at Grand River this year. To de-stress, Ralph likes to cook, read historical fiction, and play Mario Kart. They love playing board games as a family.