As part of the Town of North Hempstead celebration of Hispanic Heritage, Hispanic-Americans from the community who have positively influenced and enriched society were honored, including Carlos Gonzalez of Great Neck, Saddle Rock Elementary School Principal Luciana Bradley, Carolina Guardado of Westbury, Luis Romero of Westbury UFSD, Rene and Margarita Gonzalez of Port Washington, Brenda Odom of Westbury and Alberto Santos of Garden City Park.
Our local honorees have impacted the peninsula in many ways.
Born in Valparaiso, Chile, Gonzalez immigrated to the United States in 1971. He became a citizen in 1988 and settled in Great Neck in 1989. He studied restaurant, bar, food service and events at Nassau Community College, where he earned a coaching diploma. He also received certifications from the Health Department, the American New York Bartender School and the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
Gonzalez has volunteered as a soccer coach for children from the Hispanic communities in Great Neck and Port Washington, as well as at the CLASP Children’s Center in Great Neck. With his son, Juan Carlos, he organized a donation drive at E.M. Baker School, collecting soccer equipment for Refugio de Cristo’s orphanage in his home town in Chile.
He is a member of the Hispanic Community of Great Neck, Chilean Civic Center of New York and Valparaiso New York Futbol Club, as well as founder of the Everton Port Washington Futbol Club and Chilean-American Sports Committee of New York, which celebrated Chile’s Independence Day at North Hempstead Beach Park last fall.
Although Bradley was born in the states, both of her parents immigrated from Puerto Rico at a young age. She has fond memories of spending summer vacations hiking through El Yunque Rain Forest in the Luquillo Mountains in Puerto Rico. Having recently lost her mother, Vicky Rodriguez, who raised Bradley to have pride in her heritage, give back to the community and help los niños olvidados, the forgotten children, this honor is especially meaningful.
The Saddle Rock principal is proud of her Latin-American heritage and is happy she has the opportunity to help the Hispanic-American students and their families that she encounters at school every day.
Over the past several years, Bradley has focused on the school’s outreach to its Hispanic community. Along with the Saddle Rock support staff, she developed an intervention aimed at increasing the rate of success for students below the poverty line. As a result, it was identified that her school’s low-income Hispanic students were most significantly impacted. With this information, a plan to help level the playing field was developed, and the school proudly provides a scholarship program that has offered eligible families support to alleviate some of the financial requirements for full participation in class-wide and school-wide activities, including school supplies, book bags, book sales, plant sales and class trips.
This is Bradley’s 24th year working in an elementary school setting—her 14th in Great Neck and her first year as principal. Her years of experience as an elementary school teacher and assistant principal have prepared her for the challenges that she will face as principal. Her culturally diverse family experience, as well as her commitment to a collaborative leadership approach toward educating children, has allowed her to bring about positive change.
The Saddle Rock community will be able to count on her to be dependable, knowledgeable, trustworthy and loyal. She leads by example with integrity and had earned the respect of the staff, parents and, most importantly, the students.
In honor of the recognition by the Town of North Hempstead, Bradley shared President Barack Obama’s words from National Hispanic Heritage Month in 2016, “Let us embrace the diversity that strengthens us and continue striving to ensure the American dream is within reach for generations of Hispanics to come.”