2021 Principal of the Year creates inclusive school culture

For Miami-Dade’s new principal of the year, people with special needs have always been close to her heart.

Rachel Autler

Rachel Autler grew up with a family member with special needs. And after earning a degree in sociology and working retail, she realized something was missing from her life. Curious about special education, she took a few courses at FIU and decided to make it her career.

Autler believes each student is an individual who has the right to an education that exceeds expectations.

So when she became principal of Hialeah Gardens Elementary six years ago, Autler ensured inclusion efforts for students with special needs and facilitated their relationships both inside and outside the classroom.

Rachel Autler
Photo courtesy Miami-Dade County Public Schools

“I wanted students to feel like Hialeah Gardens Elementary was their home away from home,” Autler said. “When students feel nurtured and comfortable they are able to accept help when needed or have the confidence to ask for support. This culture of trust created a place where students and staff feel safe and they are able to be their best selves.”

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho announced Autler as Miami-Dade County Public School’s Principal of the Year during a live-streamed ceremony.

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After 16 years at Hialeah Gardens Elementary, Autler now serves as Miami-Dade Schools North Region administrative director. She is helping other principals reach their own goals — from increasing performance to creating a positive school culture.