Peter Alvino Park High School principal

As I stepped into his office, I noticed the abstract and mosiac art that adorned the walls, the large colorful woven rug showing from underneath the desk, the wide array of books and magazines, and the classical music playing softly in the background. I knew I was in the presence of a man who enjoyed some of the better things in life; therefore, I surmized that interviewing this person would be a sheer delight.

Peter Alvino's opening remarks were filled with praises for Luz, his wife who is working on her Ph.D.; his brother Eric, who has won national acclaim for his interior designs; his parents, whom he holds in the highest regard, and his two lovely children, who are his pride and joy.

It was only after he paid tribute to others that we could begin to talk about the life of Dr. Peter Alvino, the new directing principal at Washington Park High School.

Poverty level Alvino and his three brothers were raised on the poverty level wages of $59 per week that his father earned as a dish washer in New York City. His mother did not work outside of the home. It was understood that the father would earn the family's income, while the mother's major responsibilities were to attend the boys' education, prepare food and proper clothing and maintain a clean home.

Peter learned responsibility from his father and gained a respect for the value of a good education from his mother. He confesses that despite his mother's prompting, his love for sports had a much stronger attraction than anything else.

It wasn't until Peter entered Aviation High School that he learned from his Chinese peers that competitive academics could actually be fun. Once he was bitten by the intellectual gymnastics bug, Peter found that he could be an outstanding student and still have time for sports.

Alvino graduated third in his class, but much to his chagrin, he learned that he could not go on to become a commercial airline pilot due to his limited vision.

Enrolled at Wheaton Alvino's mentor helped him select a college that had a reputation for producing pastors and college professors, one of which he hoped to become. He enrolled at Wheaton College in Illinois.

Math came easy for him, so he decided to teach math.

Halfway through his undergraduate studies Peter married Luz. With a new bride to support, Alvino took on a part-time job in addition to the full-time one he already had. He also continued coaching basketball, while carrying a full academic load and completing his junior and senior years with honors.

Alvino landed a job teaching math and kept on taking courses toward a guidance and counseling degree because he discovered that he enjoyed the one-on-one contact.

Upon finishing his master's degree and becoming a counselor, Alvino continued taking additional courses for the sheer love

of learning. He earned his doctorate degree by the time he was 28 years old; whereupon, he became a faculty member at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill. He taught curriculum instruction, wrote grants and became director of various computer base programs.

At age 32, Peter Alvino was accepted into medical school; wherein, after weighing out the pros and cons, he felt that he would be in a better position to affect more lives as an educator. Alvino stirred with emotion as he explained how he arrived at his conclusion.

"The role of educator is a precious one," Alvino said. "As a medical doctor I may have helped people one at a time; however, as an educator I'm in a position to affect many lives.

"My desire in life is to reenergize other educators who may have grown weary. I want to get teachers excited about their area of certification. I want to open their horizons, to see the big picture.

"For none like educators have the opportunity to shape and mold the lives that will control our society. It's an awesome feeling."

Referee, coach As with all dedicated educators, teaching for Peter Alvino goes beyond the classroom. In his spare time he referees and /or coaches eight basketball teams. He comes home exhausted, but he says that if his efforts keep kids out of the streets, in addition to teaching them some survival and interpersonal relationship skills, then he feels complete. In turn, his investment in young people energizes Alvino so that he can go on to his next challenge.

When Peter Alvino was hired as the directing principal of Washington Park High School it was history in the making! Dr. Peter Alvino is the first Hispanic in the history of Racine to be employed as a principal in the public education system.

It took Racine Unified School District almost 10 years to hire a second Hispanic administrator but bringing a person of Peter Alvino's caliber on board definately makes the wait worthwhile! Congratulations Del Fritchen on the wise hiring choice y Bienvenido (and welcome), Dr. Peter Alvino!

Mary Jane Hernandez is active in the Hispanic community.

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