Dr. Cardona at the White House in August 2023
Dr. Cardona at the White House in August 2023

Meet the Head of Education!

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona talks to News-O-Matic!

The president doesn’t run the United States alone. He or she needs a team of experts to manage the government. This group — called the Cabinet — leads 15 departments in the country. The U.S. Secretary of Education is the head of the Department of Education. Miguel Cardona has that top job!

Dr. Cardona was born in Connecticut. His parents were from Puerto Rico and spoke Spanish as he was growing up. Cardona studied education and became a fourth-grade teacher. At age 28, he became a principal. In 2021, Cardona became the 12th U.S. Secretary of Education.

News-O-Matic (NOM): What message do you have for students in the new school year?
Cardona: To the students across the country — all 65 million — I say this is a great opportunity for new relationships, new friendships, and new chances to explore something new. It’s an opportunity to look inward and see the talents you have and how you’re using them. It’s time to get engaged in a new club or after-school activity. It’s a fresh start for a great year.

NOM: How can students benefit from learning current events?
Cardona: It’s important that students learn current events — not only at the national level but also at the local level. Many students might have the answer to a problem in their community. Oftentimes, we think that people in suits like me have the answers. That’s not the case. Most of the time, it’s our youth — our students — who have solutions to problems. So, learning current events is a great way for students to be a part of the solution.

NOM: Why is it important to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?
Cardona: Bueno, para mi es muy importante celebrar el día de Herencia Hispana. Y la razón es porque es muy importante celebrar lo que nos hace muy diferente y especial. Yo siempre digo: “ser bilingüe es un super poder.” Hispanic Heritage Month is a great way to acknowledge that we’re all different — but that makes us all special. And celebrating differences is a great way to honor customs and . Being bilingual and is a superpower. Students should feel that way, whether it’s Hispanic or a different culture. That’s what makes this country so special. That’s what makes this country unique.

NOM: What is the value of reading?
Cardona: Reading is a skill that takes you to new places. You can learn about other cultures, about history, about how we got to where we are as a country. You learn facts that might drive you into a passion for your career. I love serving people, and I love learning about communities. That led me to a career in teaching and education. But reading is the gateway to opportunities. It opens doors. And sometimes it’s just fun to get into books. Use your imagination to paint a picture in your mind, using the words on the page to create what it might look like in your mind. That’s always exciting.

NOM: What are your goals for the U.S. school system — and yourself?
Cardona: My goal for this year is to provide support to our schools, to make sure we’re supporting our educators. This is a very tough time to teach and to lead. I want students to know that we’re fighting for them. We’re fighting to get more opportunities — not only in K–12 but for higher education. It’s an exciting opportunity to make sure every student feels respected and welcomed in our schools. Every parent and educator should feel supported in this process of educating children. We’re fortunate to be serving at a time where students need us most. And I’m fortunate to serve as Secretary of Education. Those are my goals.

NOM: What advice do you have for students who are interested in leadership?
Cardona: Forty years ago, I was eight years old. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I liked going to school. I liked my teachers. I had a lot of friends there. It was fun. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. But through school, I found my purpose in life, which was to help students and become a teacher. That’s opened doors for me — doors I didn’t even expect to be open for me. Education did that for me. So, follow your passion. Continue to learn. Learn new facts, but also learn a little bit more about yourself. And in that process, have fun. School should be fun.

Updated September 12, 2023, 5:02 P.M. (ET)
By Russell Kahn (Russ)

Dr. Cardona at the White House in August 2023
Dr. Cardona at the White House in August 2023

The president doesn’t run the United States alone. He or she needs a team of experts to manage the government. This group — called the Cabinet — leads 15 departments in the country. The U.S. Secretary of Education is the head of the Department of Education. Miguel Cardona has that top job!

Dr. Cardona was born in Connecticut. His parents were from Puerto Rico and spoke Spanish as he was growing up. Cardona studied education and became a fourth-grade teacher. At age 28, he became a principal. In 2021, Cardona became the 12th U.S. Secretary of Education.

News-O-Matic (NOM): What message do you have for students in the new school year?
Cardona: To the students across the country — all 65 million — I say this is a great opportunity for new relationships, new friendships, and new chances to explore something new. It’s an opportunity to look inward and see the talents you have and how you’re using them. It’s time to get engaged in a new club or after-school activity. It’s a fresh start for a great year.

NOM: How can students benefit from learning current events?
Cardona: It’s important that students learn current events — not only at the national level but also at the local level. Many students might have the answer to a problem in their community. Oftentimes, we think that people in suits like me have the answers. That’s not the case. Most of the time, it’s our youth — our students — who have solutions to problems. So, learning current events is a great way for students to be a part of the solution.

NOM: Why is it important to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?
Cardona: Bueno, para mi es muy importante celebrar el día de Herencia Hispana. Y la razón es porque es muy importante celebrar lo que nos hace muy diferente y especial. Yo siempre digo: “ser bilingüe es un super poder.” Hispanic Heritage Month is a great way to acknowledge that we’re all different — but that makes us all special. And celebrating differences is a great way to honor customs and . Being bilingual and is a superpower. Students should feel that way, whether it’s Hispanic or a different culture. That’s what makes this country so special. That’s what makes this country unique.

NOM: What is the value of reading?
Cardona: Reading is a skill that takes you to new places. You can learn about other cultures, about history, about how we got to where we are as a country. You learn facts that might drive you into a passion for your career. I love serving people, and I love learning about communities. That led me to a career in teaching and education. But reading is the gateway to opportunities. It opens doors. And sometimes it’s just fun to get into books. Use your imagination to paint a picture in your mind, using the words on the page to create what it might look like in your mind. That’s always exciting.

NOM: What are your goals for the U.S. school system — and yourself?
Cardona: My goal for this year is to provide support to our schools, to make sure we’re supporting our educators. This is a very tough time to teach and to lead. I want students to know that we’re fighting for them. We’re fighting to get more opportunities — not only in K–12 but for higher education. It’s an exciting opportunity to make sure every student feels respected and welcomed in our schools. Every parent and educator should feel supported in this process of educating children. We’re fortunate to be serving at a time where students need us most. And I’m fortunate to serve as Secretary of Education. Those are my goals.

NOM: What advice do you have for students who are interested in leadership?
Cardona: Forty years ago, I was eight years old. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I liked going to school. I liked my teachers. I had a lot of friends there. It was fun. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. But through school, I found my purpose in life, which was to help students and become a teacher. That’s opened doors for me — doors I didn’t even expect to be open for me. Education did that for me. So, follow your passion. Continue to learn. Learn new facts, but also learn a little bit more about yourself. And in that process, have fun. School should be fun.

Updated September 12, 2023, 5:02 P.M. (ET)
By Russell Kahn (Russ)

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