Looking Back into Beginnings of an Alumni: Mr. Paz’s Lifelong Teachings


Aaron Rojas

After 37 years in teaching at his alma mater, Mr. Paz is excited for new experiences following his retirement.

Being the fourth longest-tenured teacher at Coral Gables Senior High is not an insignificant feat. After seeing his school evolve and flourish over the course of his 37 years of teaching at his alma mater, Mr. Paz, the economics and government teacher, has sent his retirement letter.

It is normal for instructors, such as Mr. Paz, to send a letter informing principal Mr. Ullivarri of their imminent retirement date. Although he has decided to continue teaching for the 2022-2023 school year, Mr. Paz can retire at any point within the next five years. By June 3, 2027, his retirement will go into effect immediately. 

Looking back at his three years as a Cavalier, Mr. Paz was devoted to sports prior to pursuing economics. As a junior, Mr. Paz was part of the football team, winning district championships and placing second in state championships. He also won districts and regionals with the soccer team. With these considerable successes demonstrating his athletic prowess, Paz eventually became captain of the football and soccer teams during his senior year. He was even awarded an honorable mention in the Miami Herald’s “All-County High School Sports” as a football player and part of the second-best team in soccer.

Following his graduation from Gables in 1979, Mr. Paz enrolled in Miami Dade College. There, he received his Associate of Arts degree in Economics and played on the National Junior College Men’s Soccer Championship team until 1980. Paz also received a scholarship from MDC to play soccer at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Eventually, he transferred back to Miami, Fla. and attended Florida International University. During his time as a Panther, he completed his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Finance and placed in National Soccer Champions in 1984.

“My first teaching and coaching stint was at Miami Jackson Senior High, where I taught math and was the head boys soccer coach to an All-Haitian team, as they were one of the best teams in Miami-Dade County until the second part of the season due to grades. I later went to Christopher Columbus High School where I was in the same capacity except this time I was at an all-boys catholic school for two years with a higher academic,” Mr. Paz said.

Desiring a return to his alma mater, Mr. Paz eventually returned to Gables and began teaching in 1986. One of the most memorable moments of his career was when he won the Junior Achievement Stock Market Challenge with his senior economics class, placing in the top three. Each participating student received a brand-new beach cruiser bicycle alongside a congratulatory pizza party. More recently, in 2018, Mr. Paz took his students to William J. Bryan Elementary in Little Haiti to educate his class about the importance of economics and finance in the everyday lives of underprivileged students.

Senior running back Antonio “Motor” Paz tackling his opponent against Miami Northwestern Senior High. (Courtesy of Mr. Paz)

“Watching my students smile while volunteering while engaging disabled students through motivational and motor skills development opportunities with Autistic and Down Syndrome kids made me happy,” Mr. Paz said.

Mr. Paz’s journey as a teacher had its bumps throughout the years such as the passing of several of his former students and his fellow teacher and friend Mr. Bollinger.  Fortunately, he continued at his Cavalier home and helped introduce technological advancements into Gables’ classrooms. As he gradually learned about the Internet, he became more interested in utilizing software programs such as Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, Teams and Zoom. 

“Remember the 5 P’s of life, they will take you a long way; stay PAZative, be Patient, Preserve through life’s challenging and difficult times, nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence and lastly, do what you love and love what you do, empower your daily life with Passion,” Mr. Paz said.

Antonio Paz (fourth bottom row) kneeling alongside his best friends in concluding his high school soccer season with a 13-1 record. (Courtesy of Mr. Paz)

As for his post-retirement plans, Mr. Paz is planning to visit Qatar for the World Cup in November as it will mark the tenth consecutive World Cup he has attended. Additionally, he will continue his advocacy for the United States Woman’s National Soccer team for the World Cup. At some point, Mr. Paz would like to travel to Alaska, Hawaii and China. Most importantly, he is looking forward to spending time with his family and is open to buying a beach property in the near future.