At the start of each school year at West Hempstead High School during Alvaro Escobar’s tenure as principal, he played “Karn Evil 9 (1st Impression, Part 2),” by the legendary progressive rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer, on the P.A. system. The opening lyrics, known to music fans around the world, are, “Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends.”
Escobar told the Herald in a 2018 story that for him, education is a never-ending journey. Though he had retired that year, he said that like the “show,” education must go on.
Escobar, who spent nearly 20 years in the West Hempstead School District, died on May 3. He was 60. The cause of his death was not disclosed.
“As many in the community will agree, Al will always be remembered for his kind and soft-spoken approach with students and staff,” district Superintendent Daniel Rehman in a statement. “Our prayers are with his family at this difficult time.”
Escobar began his career in education in 1984, as an adaptive phys. ed. teacher, helping disabled students for the New York State Education Department. In 2000 he was hired as the athletic director at West Hempstead High. He was promoted to assistant principal in 2005, and in 2015 he was appointed principal. He retired in 2018 to spend more time with his family.
“Mr. Escobar was an educational leader who established an atmosphere of respect and kindness, and always had students’ and staff’s best interests at heart,” said former district Superintendent Patricia Sullivan-Kriss.
Reflecting on his years in the district, Escobar, who lived in Whitestone, Queens, told the Herald that he was most proud of the high school staff for increasing the rigor of the high curriculum. His goals were for his students to become critical thinkers and to enhance their social, academic and emotional skills.
The high school launched its Silver Cord program in 2017, which encourages students to take part in community service. Students volunteered at local hospitals, and some traveled to other countries to help build homes.
Another achievement Escobar was proud of was the diversity of the school, which he described as a living mosaic, and that students accepted one another’s differences. “I would say that as principal, I was able to give at least somewhat of a voice to a population that didn’t always have a voice, because I spend a lot of time with the [English as a New Language] kids,” said Escobar, who also spoke Spanish.
He is survived by his wife, Sue, and his two sons, Chris and Matt.