Hello, my name is John Joseph Donohue, Jr, and I am the newly appointed principal of Miami Beach Senior High, home of the Hi-Tides.
I was born in North Shore Hospital, on NW 95 St. in Miami, FL, the 5th child, and the 1st son of John & Terese Donohue. Ultimately, there were 7 children in my family, and I had no brothers (you do the math). My mom and dad moved to Miami shortly after WWII from the area around Boston, Massachusetts, and committed their lives to raising a Catholic family in South Florida. Obviously I have a strong love and commitment to family life.
My dad was an American History teacher at North Miami and Northwestern High Schools, mostly at North Miami, the home of the Pioneers. I attended Biscayne Gardens Elementary, Thomas Jefferson Junior High, and then North Miami High School. All of the Donohue kids helped Dad grade papers from his classes, and I enjoyed that. I always got good grades in school, and was fortunate enough to play on the basketball team in high school. In my senior year, I was Student Government President, and led the student body to a great, exciting, productive, and high-spirited bi-centennial graduation year. Also during my senior year, I met the love of my life, Maria Llerena, a Peruvian immigrant who just happened to be a “Pionette” (ball girl). She eventually became my wife. Obviously I have a strong love and commitment to school and the education process.
As a kid, I was a big fan of South Florida’s sports teams, the University of Miami Hurricanes, and ultimately the Miami Dolphins in 1966. Some of my happiest lifetime memories are of me and my dad selling concessions at the Orange Bowl in those early years of my life. I was able to watch lots of Hurricane football games (former T-Bred Ted Hendricks included), the very 1st Dolphin game (Joe Auer), and all the Super Bowls in Miami (QB’s Bart Starr, Joe Namath, Johnny Unitas, and Terry Bradshaw). Obviously I have a strong commitment and love for South Florida sports.
Besides working as a vendor (selling chairbacks, sodas, hot dogs, and beer) at the Orange Bowl during those early years, I was able to develop a thriving lawn business in Biscayne Gardens during my teenage years, providing me with a steady supply of lucrative amounts of cash and “atta-boys”, very welcome income during the late 1960’s and all of the 70’s. Obviously I have strong work ethic, and appreciation for everything that comes with that.
It was during my Sophomore year at Biscayne College (now known as St. Thomas University) in Opa-Locka that I decided on a career in Sports Medicine. It was there that I received mentoring from the Athletic Trainers from the Miami Dolphins (Bob Lundy and Junior Wade) and the Baltimore Orioles (John McCall) that peaked my interest in helping athletes stay strong and get healthy when injured. My Bachelor’s Degree from Biscayne College led me to Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo for a Master’s Degree in Sports Medicine. Those were some tough, cold, freezing years in Kalamazoo, but even though I was more than a thousand miles from Miami, I learned that South Florida had a lot more to offer than I knew before I left. Obviously I have a strong love for the South Florida environment.
With all of those “loves”, I began my adult life back in Miami, in 1982, marrying Maria and becoming the Athletic Trainer at Miami Central HS. Principal Dr. Harold Guinyard hired me to be the Athletic Trainer for the Rockets, and then promptly informed me that I had to teach Biology, something that I had little formal training for, but eventually led to many student successes in the classroom and on the athletic fields and courts. Obviously I have a strong love and commitment for student success.
In 1984 and 1985, Maria and I were able to experience the joy of parenthood, giving birth to daughters Marita and Kerry. Balancing the job requirements of being a husband, a father of two, a Biology teacher, an Athletic Trainer, and an Orange Bowl vendor, was a new and extremely challenging experience. Obviously adapting to the challenges and adversities that life presents is a passion for me.
In 1986, I was transferred to North Miami HS (my old high school), to be their Athletic Trainer and Anatomy / Biology / Environmental Science teacher. I was reunited with former teachers (now colleagues) and a whole new community of students that I used to be a part of. During my eight years at North Miami, I served as the Junior Class sponsor and the Science Department Chairperson, as well as my assumed duties as Science Teacher and Athletic Trainer. Obviously I have a passion for leading passionate groups of people to achieve their goals.
Fatherly duties peaked during the early-90’s, and a desire to work closer to home led me to transfer to American High School in 1994. The collegial work of Principal Bob Snyder, Assistant Principals Vertis Lane and John Stevens, and Administrative Assistant Doug Rodriguez, inspired me to look outside of the classroom to explore further leadership experiences. Our first son, John III, was born in August of 1995, a real blessing for the entire Donohue Family. In 1997, a Mega-Magnet School (Coral Reef HS) in Kendall was opening and looking for leaders for their 6 magnet programs, one of which was the Leisure Medicine (Sports Medicine) magnet. With the encouragement of the administrators of American HS, I applied for the Lead Teacher position of the Leisure Medicine Program at CRHS, and was hired in January of 1997. Taking a job 40 miles from home was tough, but the opportunity to take a bigger school leadership position was intriguing. Obviously making tough career moves is hard for us all, but it is what it is.
Building the Leisure Medicine Magnet Program at Coral Reef HS was a unique and rewarding challenge, but seeing the first graduates in the class of 2000 was like witnessing the birth of another 110 children, beginning the pursuit of their post-secondary medical careers into the respective college/university majors. During the years of 1997 – 2001, I took courses at Nova-Southeastern University that prepared me to take the step into the realm of school administration. Right after the disasters of 9/11/01, Madison Middle School’s principal Vivian Santiesteban-Pardo hired me to be one of her 3 assistant principals, joining Melvin Blocker and Dr. Jean Teal, a whole new community (middle school) of teachers and learners that I had to lead. Obviously I enjoy new challenges.
Early in February of 2004, an opportunity to be a high school assistant principal at Hialeah High opened, and ultimately, Principal Lorenzo Ladaga (T-Bred alumni) hired me from Madison to Hialeah High School. With this move, I returned to the high school level at which I had spent the majority of my career. The Hialeah High Family welcomed me, and I welcomed the opportunity to learn a whole new set of skills from a whole new set of people, while at the same time bringing my passion and expertise to a whole new educational family. Eventually, my colleague Assistant Principal, Dr. Verena Cabrera, replaced Mr. Ladaga as the Educational Leader at Hialeah High. Under her leadership and wisdom, the T-Bred staff and students worked tirelessly and strategically to make learning gains for all students across all disciplines the highest priority. Obviously I embrace adversity and the opportunities that come from it.
During the summer of 2012, in the middle of the night, I was called to leave Hialeah High to work alongside Dr. Rosann Sidener, the Principal of Miami Beach Senior High School, as the Temporary Principal, as Dr. Sidener battled cancer that was recently diagnosed in the Spring of 2012. Working alongside the accomplished, brilliant and experienced Dr. Sidener was a Blessing and a challenge at the same time. Beach High’s beautifully diverse student body and accomplished faculty had made incredible strides over several years, and were now dealing with their educational and emotional leader battling her life-threatening illness. Rosann Sidener passed away in April of 2013. The Hi-Tide Family suffered a great loss that day and year, but we grew closer and stronger as a team so to honor her life and legacy. Obviously I was Blessed to join a new family and organization that knew what it takes to be successful.
Obviously, I CARE about the success of each and every person that I come in contact with, including YOU!