Growing up in the streets of Chicago, Raúl Font’s goals were simple: find a way to eat, don’t get in a lot trouble and learn to get by without resorting to illegal activities. Simple and straightforward goals for a six-year old.
What Font didn’t figure out was how to stay out of trouble. While enrolled in a Catholic School in Chicago, Raúl seemed to always be the last one released. Staying after school for community service/detention was habitual. By the age of 11, his family moved back to Puerto Rico to be closer to family. Raúl continued his challenges with structure escalating to dropping out of school in the sixth grade for a semester. Soon after, Raúl finally came across a sport and a coach that changed his life.
“The coach handed me a basketball and said, ‘Every time you are angry bounce the ball and get out that energy, so you don’t get into fights,’” Font explained.
Bouncing the ball led to shooting hoops and eventually led Font to playing high school basketball as well as walking-on to a Division I Basketball Program.He played basketball at the University of Mayaguez in Puerto Rico until he tore a knee ligament during his junior year.
“I didn’t know what to do next,” Font declared. “I couldn’t afford to finish college without a scholarship, and I couldn’t go back to the place I grew up.”
Font decided to finish what he started.He earned money by playing in Salsa bands and
finished college early. He took his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Mayaguez in Puerto Rico and returned to his high school to teach and coach basketball.
Six years later, Font returned to the United States and taught at Moore Public Schools. After completing his master’s degree, he worked for the Oklahoma State Department of Education. Seven years later he joined the Oklahoma City Public Schools as a building administrator with “tours” at U.S. Grant, Jefferson Middle, and Capitol Hill School.
Font received his master’s degree in 1984 in bilingual education/English as a second language from the University of Central Oklahoma and obtained his doctorate in education administration, curriculum and supervision from The University of Oklahoma.
He has taught every grade from first grade to doctoral classes.
He is a founding member of the Latino Community Development Agency and in 2015 he became the organization’s president. “You never know your impact on the young people you try to help,” Font mused.
At his first gala with the agency, he ran into a former student who had been expelled from school prior to his arrival at CHHS. He gave her an opportunity to return.
“Fourteen years later, she is standing in front of me, as vice president of a bank,” Font said. “She is living proof of how education can bring success, regardless of where you began.”