Retired BGEC principal Robin Behrman looks to future

Education By R.A. Romero, The Miami Laker staff Friday, July 19, 2013


  Though Dr. Robin Behrman, former principal of Bob Graham Education Center, has retired, she has no intention of ending her professional pursuits there.

"I am not really retired. I have no intention of being 'retired'. Right now, I'm looking to begin another chapter," said Behrman. "I am looking for the right position to take. It might be in education, possibly in the not for profit arena. I just don't know where it might be. I'd love to teach at the university level. I am going to be 60 in November. That's just too young to stop!"

Originally hailing from Queens, New York, an eight-year-old Behrman and her family moved to North Miami Beach when her father grew tired of the snow.

Behrman's interest in education began early in life when she would play 'school' as a child. She was further inspired to pursue education when, in the 4th grade, she  had "the best" teacher, Richard McGuire, with whom she still maintains a friendship with today. He is now 78 years old. A product of the Miami-Dade County Public School System from the third grade forward, Behrman attended Sabal Palm Elementary, then John F. Kennedy Jr. High and graduated from Miami Norland Senior High, class of 1971.

Behrman is a proud Gator alumni, having received her Associate of Art degree at the University of Florida before moving with her new husband, Andy, to Norfolk, Virginia, while he was stationed on an aircraft carrier following his time in the U.S. Navy during Viet Nam. She briefly attended Old Dominion University.

The pair celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary this past June. 

After being discharged, the couple moved back to South Florida and attended Florida International University (FIU) where Behrman received her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. Though at the time, due to surplussing, it was difficult to find a position in education, Behrman managed to get her foot in the door as a substitute teacher. She later became a teacher at a private school for a handful of years while studying for her Master of Science in Counseling Psychology, which she received from Nova Southeastern University in 1981.

Beginning in 1983, Behrman worked for M-DCPS as a teacher at Skyway Elementary. Later, Behrman began teaching at Palm Springs North Elementary (PSN) in 1992 where she held a temporary position as an assistant principal at both PSN and Mae M. Walters Elementary before settling in as a permanent assistant principal at PSN in 2000. During this time, Behrman also went back to FIU and earned an Educational Specialist in Educational Leadership, where she was required to take a law class, a subject that would hold her interest for years to come.

When Bob Graham Education Center opened its doors in 2002, Behrman was on the administrative staff as assistant principal. She received her doctoral degree in Curriculum and Instruction at FIU in 2003 and became the school's principal in 2006, a position she held until this past school year.

Throughout her career, Behrman has been nominated for and won Teacher of the Year and Assistant Principal of the Year several times and was a Principal of the Year nominee for 2011. She has also been a finalist for North Regional Assistant Principal of the Year and for the District Assistant Principal of the Year. During her years as principal at BGEC, she maintained an "A" grade from the state of Florida.

Behrman's professional achievements also include decades of service as a liaison, trainer, presenter and consultant to various committees and membership to many community related activities in her home county, Broward. 

In 2011 Behrman acted on the spark created during her time studying law to run for the Florida House of Representatives for district 104. Though Richard Stark won the democratic seat, Behrman isn't ruling anything out.

"I learned education is still a key issue. So many people believed that education is the primary pathway to a better job market. If the right position comes along, I would consider running again," said Behrman.

During her candidacy Behrman was endorsed by former U.S. Senator and former Governor Bob Graham and his wife Adele, whom she cites as inspiration.

"There are so many instances where their friendship has played a key role in my life both personally and professionally, and the specific ones are just too numerous to mention," said Behrman.

Behrman's career is one that has often been center stage, a long ways away from the timid young woman Behrman recalls she once was.

"Believe it or not, from the time I was a child, I was extremely shy and introverted," said Behrman. "One big turning point came from my relationship with my friend and former boss, Dr. Dawn Hurns Robinson. I never had any intention of becoming an administrator. She kept pushing me to go back to school to become certified to be an administrator, and I kept fighting her. Finally, I relented. Dawn began putting me into situations, which she knew were way beyond my comfort level. The more she did it, the more comfortable I became."

Behrman has had a full home, raising two daughters, Jennifer, 36, and Allison, 34. Berhman and her husband have two grandchildren, Eli and Ariana, and are expecting their third. 

Though her life has been peppered with strong friendships that have motivated and ushered her to continue moving forward, Behrman has most admired her parents and husband for their exemplary work ethic and unfailing consistency in her life.

"My mom, Lila Pollak is an amazing woman. Even today, at the age of 83, she works three days a week. When my dad passed away 13 years ago, it was tough on all of us. She has since been a model of what an independent woman should be. My dad was well loved by everyone who met him. He was politically involved, helped everyone he could, was always ethical, and made sure that my brothers and I went to college," said Behrman. "I so truly admire my husband, Andy. He has become a well respected resource for many people to turn to when it comes to primary care in the State of Florida and across the U.S. Andy is wonderful father and adored by his grandchildren. Not many people can say they made it to 40 years of marriage, but I am one of the lucky ones."

After 38 years as an educator and administrator Behrman shares some words of wisdom for up and coming educators in the field.

"Even though educators are consistently being disrespected by many, just remember that you do make a difference in the lives of children," said Behrman. "Without an educator's commitment to students, there would be no foundation for all other professions."

Behrman's family, friends and colleagues arranged a surprise party in her honor for her years of service. On her last day at Bob Graham Education Center, Mayor Michael Pizzi and council members presented her with the key to the Town of Miami Lakes.