Ralph Arza: Educator And Businessman
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Ralph Arza, Educator Extraordinaire!

Rafael “Ralph” Arza is fueled by a passion for training and inspiring others. His father served as an inspiration, exhibiting an admirable tenacity and courage when he brought his family to the United States from Cuba after Fidel Castro seized power. This example made Ralph realize that ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things.

The Arzas settled in the heart of the city of Miami, where Ralph learned English by listening to the radio and developed a passion for American football. He went on to become a representative of the Miami Senior High School Stings on the football field and played for a season at Wisconsin’s Beloit College, before enrolling in Miami-Dade Community College, where he earned an associate’s degree. After receiving an undergraduate degree from Florida International University, Ralph returned to Miami High as a teacher. He also coached football as an assistant to Charlie Bethel, head coach at Miami Jackson High School.

When he was 25-years-old, Ralph became head coach at Miami Senior High School, the youngest head football coach and first Cuban-American head coach in the county’s history. He is credited with turning around a losing program, delivering the school’s first winning season in 18 years. Five players he guided went on to the NFL, while others played Division 1 college football.

Ralph’s on-field achievements were mirrored by the academic accomplishments of his students, many of whom are working as lawyers, judges, administrators and teachers, and others who have achieved notable business success.

Making a difference in young people’s lives through academics and sports was not enough for Ralph; he wanted to lead and encourage young people to see past their environments. He teamed up with local law enforcement and officials from the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) in 1996 to create Top Performance youth seminars for disadvantaged teens from troubled neighborhoods. More than a thousand teens over three years participated in team-building activities and time management coaching, listening to motivational speakers.

Ralph left teaching for public service in 1996, with education remaining one of his top priorities. As a member of the Florida House of Representatives, where he served the state until 2006, he earned a reputation as a pioneer in school reform and served as chair of the K-12 Education Committee. Ralph worked closely with Governor Bush on the development of Florida’s A++ Program to improve standards in the state’s middle and high schools. He co-sponsored Bill 271, crating income tax credits for corporations that contribute money to private organizations that provide scholarships to children from low-income families. Ralph was appointed to the South Regional Educational Board (SREB) by Governor Bush and Mississippi Governor Ronnie Musgrove to the SREB Executive Committee.

Additionally, Ralph helped establish the Ryder Charter Elementary School, the first in an American workplace, and secure funding for New World School of Fine Arts in Miami-Dade County, with teacher retention bonuses.

An outspoken advocate, Ralph had a unique perspective on the subject of education, becoming the go-to person in education reform. He remains a trusted voice in the field of education to this day, with people at all levels seeking his advice.

Ralph Arza is a businessman, educator and speaker. He resides in West Palm Beach, Florida with his wife and kids. For more information please visit Ralph Arza Facts


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