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Homegrown hero named lone finalist for Superintendent

The Harlandale ISD Board of Trustees recently selected Rey Madrigal as its number one candidate to lead the district, but that same night, another number came up: 54.

Caleb Keller, a 7th grader at Harlandale Middle School student, signed up for the Citizens to be Heard portion of the school board meeting on January 22 and walked to the microphone proudly wearing jersey #54. He told the story of a man he had met several years ago who encouraged him to play football when he got to middle school. That man mentioned that he himself had played football at the very same school Caleb was about to enter and had worn jersey #54. Caleb remembered the story, remembered that man and followed in his footsteps. Turn out that man was Rey Madrigal and it turns out Caleb wanted to speak publicly just to show his support of him.

“In life, there are no coincidences,” Caleb said, “We need a leader with a heart like Mr. Madrigal. He’s a role model for me and my classmates.”

About 20 minutes prior to Caleb’s speech, the School Board had voted 7-0 to name Madrigal as the lone finalist for Superintendent. He had been serving as Interim Superintendent since June 21, 2012, when Robert Jaklich resigned to take the top seat at Victoria ISD. For Madrigal, the position had been a long time coming.

“He started as a paraprofessional. If he’s there (as Superintendent), I can be there one day too,” said Anna Sifuentes, PTA member at Leal MS.

Mr. Madrigal’s roots run deep in Harlandale. He and his five younger brothers were raised in the district and soon after high school Mr. Madrigal returned to HISD and began working as a teacher’s aide and coach. Throughout his 30 years, he has served as a teacher, coach, athletics coordinator, vice principal, principal and assistant superintendent. During that time, he also earned his Bachelor’s degree from UTSA, Master’s from Texas A&M-Kingsville, and Superintendent’s Certification from Region 20.

“Thank you. You are an unsung hero. You are home grown, aware of the goals, dreams and unique circumstances of our district,” said another supporter.

Mr. Madrigal’s selection as Superintendent becomes official February 13.