As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage month, we recognize a local man who is a role model for the next generation of students. His continuing efforts to improve our local school system are "What's Right with Tampa Bay."
Ken Otero cares about Hillsborough County Schools, and it shows.
"If I can ever help you with anything else, give me a call," he tells a student at Leto High.
The deputy superintendent is a Tampa native with Spanish roots. He had great role models, from his dad, who was the first chief of police; and his mom, who worked for the school district.
"We grew up in a very, very strong family environment, you know, we had all of the noche buenas and all the other things where the families would all get together and it was very, very close," he says.
Otero says he uses those Hispanic values in his job today.
"The school system is part of my family now, so there's that sense of pride to want it to be the best," he said.
His passion is so deep, his daughter also joined the education system and works as the assistant principal at Leto High.
"He's a people person. He knows how to interact with people, he knows how to reach people, he has a lot of compassion for people and certainly sets time aside to interact with people one on one," said Lauren Otero.
Otero has spent decades working in our local education system, from teaching social studies at Plant High to becoming principal at Sligh Middle School. However, as a child, he himself wasn't the best student. He says the teachers who inspired him to do better made all the difference.
Years later, Otero is a role model to others in the Hispanic community and beyond.
Madison Castellano, a 9th grader at Leto High, said, "There's not a lot of leaders that are Hispanic and just being around the Hispanic community makes me, I'm really honored to be here."
Otero sets the standards for the students, but he also gives them the push they need to succeed and become the future leaders of the Bay area.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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