Parting with Pardo


"I always wanted to be a teacher," said Mr. Pardo who is retiring after 38 years in the classroom.

He used to be a bouncer, pharmaceutical sales representative, and a former power lifter for Team U.S.A. Mr. Raoul Pardo, the cool, collected, and relaxed fitness teacher of Miami High, has been teaching for 38 years but is retiring soon.

Teaching was always his first choice as a profession and is his favorite job. “I always wanted to be a teacher,” he said. “I used to teach kids who were in the neighborhood when I was younger. I wanted to help kids and make sure they were taught well with whatever they didn’t know about.”

At the age of 22, Mr. Pardo started working as a work experience teacher at Miami Lakes High School in 1973. He has worked at many schools including Miami Carol City High, J.R.E. Lee Opportunity Center, and Coral Park High.

Looking for something closer to home, Pardo decided to work as a P.E. teacher at Miami Senior High. Despite the many schools where he has worked at within the past 38 years, he said, “Miami High, by far, is the nicest school out of all of them.”

When it comes to teaching, Pardo enjoys being around the energetic students. “It keeps me fresh and not feeling old,” the 64 year old fitness coach said. He always liked teaching the kids who were ignorant of the world and helping them understand what was to come after high school.

In spite of their critical job in helping and informing teens, Pardo believes teachers don’t get paid very well. “A teacher trying to make a life just from teaching probably wouldn’t be able to get by very easily,” he said.

As a teacher with 38 years of experience, there is no doubt he has been in at least one shocking event in his school career. Back at J.R.E Lee Opportunity School, a student brought a gun to school. “I saw the gun on the kid’s waistband while he was getting off the bus,” Pardo said. “As soon as I saw the gun, I went and tackled him, and he struggled to get me off.” When asked if he was scared, Mr. Pardo said, “It was too quick; my mind set was to protect the kids.”

Mr. Pardo is all about being healthy and playing outside to stay in shape. However, what concerns him are the teens in the modern era. He believes they laze around too much and blames it on the use of computers every minute.

“There are too many computers, and so many kids nowadays are on them,” he said. In his day, all he used to do was play outside and play football on the weekends. “Kids today,” he said, “are like couch potatoes.”

On his decision to retire, it was something he was absolutely sure about. “It’s time,” he said. “I have all the paperwork sorted out.” When he retires at the end of October, he plans on doing things he’s always wanted to do. “I plan on going to the beach more often, getting back into mixed martial arts, maybe even coaching a softball team,” he said. He even plans on traveling to the other side of the world. “Since I’m from Spain, I plan on going over there to revisit some familiar places,” he said.

Outside of school, Pardo is all about family. He has 2 daughters, one of whom is an All-American in softball, and 3 grandsons.

On the weekends, he and his family get together at his house and enjoy each other’s company or sometimes even have a barbeque. “It’s that abuelo time that they have with me when the grandkids come over that makes it special,” he said.

His hobbies are powerlifting and fishing. Mr. Pardo said that when he was about 45 years old he could squat 475 pounds, dead lift 500 pounds, and bench-press 375 pounds. “I think that’s why some of the kids can relate to me,” he said. “I don’t just talk the talk, but I also walk the walk, so they see that they can also get in shape despite their age or status.”