Dr. Jaime Perez is the principal of Fowler High School and if you get a chance to catch up with him he’ll tell you all about his Falcon Pride.

He’ll probably also give you a tour of the school and tell you about his students.

What You Need To Know

  • The destruction wrought by hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico brought Dr. Jaime Perez to Syracuse

  • He was a principal in Puerto Rico and continues his compassion at Fowler

  • He's using his culture and his language to encourage students

"It’s only a structure without the kids,” Perez said. “We want the kids back. I miss them all.”

Perez has been a principal at Fowler for just over a year but he’s not new to the job. His roots go back many years and more than a thousand miles away, to Puerto Rico.

Perez was a principal at University Garden High School in San Juan until hurricanes came and damaged the school in 2017.

"When the hurricane hit us, it was twice, Irma then Maria. Maria was the worst one. Two hurricanes in the same week,” Perez said. “We had six months without power.”

Perez became part of a group of students and educators who came to New York in the aftermath of the twin disasters.

Now, three years after the hurricanes, he’s working hard to make changes at Fowler. He has increased the graduation rate by 20 percent in one year and used his identity and language to reach more students and their families.

"When I recognize their first language and I start to speak Spanish, every single time they have a smile on their faces,” Perez said. “It’s like ‘oh my god, I’m not alone here’”

He says that while he’s missing home, he knows he has work to do uplifting and empowering students in Syracuse.

"I think Syracuse is a wonderful city to work in,” Perez said. “It’s great to be part of the big change that we are trying to make here with our students and our community.”

Perez is empowering the community with Falcon Pride as well as pride in his Hispanic heritage.