Haitian Heritage: Profiles in Leadership

An Education Career Motivated by Love, Joy, and a Sense of Purpose
Posted on 01/14/2020
Dr. Wilnic Gideon

Dr. Wilnic Gideon started his career with the School District of Palm Beach County in 2012 as a math teacher at Boca Raton Community High School. He is currently in his fourth year as an Assistant Principal at Santaluces Community High School.

Dr. Gideon’s parents came to the United States from Haiti. As new immigrants with limited education, they struggled to survive, with his mother pulling in just $16,000 a year to support the family of six. As a child, Dr. Gideon was placed in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes and attended four different elementary schools, due to his family’s frequent moves.    

“I was fortunate to have dedicated teachers and programs offered by organizations like Take Stock in Children, that looked past the challenges I was facing, and believed in me”, Dr. Gideon said. “They encouraged and motivated me to be where I am today.”

Although his upbringing had its hardships, Dr. Gideon credits those experiences with teaching him how to be resilient, focused, and determined. The reality of not always having electricity in the home taught him how to work quickly and use his time wisely, as he didn’t want to have to do his homework in the dark. That also prompted him to complete his homework at school before going home.

“My mother couldn’t speak English and did not make a lot of money, but she raised six boys and instilled in us the values of hard work and sacrifice,” Dr. Gideon said. “I will never forget how hard she worked to provide for us. She always had a smile on her face, no matter what obstacles she faced, and I try to follow her example.”

Dr. Gideon is the second in his family to attend college, graduating from Florida State University with a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Mathematics Education. He then went on to obtain multiple degrees from Lynn University, including two master’s (one in Business Administration, and the other in Educational Leadership), as well as a doctorate in Educational Leadership.

When he first arrived at Florida State University, Dr. Gideon originally majored in nursing and intended to enter that profession. A brief stint as a mentor inspired him to pursue a career in education, prompting him to switch his major at the end of his freshman year.

“My fraternity mentored students at a local high school, many of whom came from a similar background as me,” Dr. Gideon said. “They were going to be the first in their family to go to college, they grew up in poverty, and were trying to find a way out of their challenging circumstances. After spending a day with those students and showing them around FSU, I knew that I wanted to work with young people full-time and dedicate my life to inspiring them to be the best version of themselves.”

As he moved into his professional career, Dr. Gideon was motivated by the values instilled in him by his family. Some of the things that posed difficulties for him as a child later on became assets, for example his ability to speak Creole allowed him to effectively relate to students and parents with similar backgrounds. The satisfaction he gained from connecting with his community inspired him to begin learning a third language, Spanish.

As an assistant principal, student success is Dr. Gideon’s priority. He believes that all students can learn and that educators are best equipped to provide students with the instruction needed to ensure they are college and career ready.

He is also committed to giving back to the community, mentoring youth through the Take Stock in Children Scholarship Foundation and conducting professional development seminars for the Florida Fund for Minority Teachers Symposiums. He also founded the Mighty Warrior Scholarship at Florida State University.

“I was lucky to have received inspiration from many educational professionals who served as my mentors,” he said. “I will never forget how they supported me, took the time to forge connections, and never gave up on me. I want to do the same for my students.”


The School District of Palm Beach County