Carmen Gloria Rosario-Olmedo is a busy Park Sloper as a doctor of philosophy, an actress, a teacher, a principal, a family woman, a Fulbright scholar, and an animal activist.
In February Rosario-Olmedo headed to Puerto Rico to host the annual festival for the Duncan’s and Tuqui’s Legacy Organization, a charity she founded to help promote awareness for the humane treatment of animals in the Caribbean.
“I believe in karma,” she says. “One has to spend one’s life giving in many ways.”
The Woman of Distinction originally aspired to work as an anthropologist, until a mentor advised her to take education classes because of the difficulty women faced in the social sciences. Rosario-Olmedo took the sound advice and followed it up with an illustrious career at PS 316 in Crown Heights, where she spent 39 years as a teacher, assistant principal, and finally principal.
“I grew up with that school,” she says. “I loved all my kids.”
In addition to teaching the lower grades and special education, Rosario-Olmedo also taught a celebrated theater program, drawing from her own theatrical background, which included acting in high school, working with the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, and securing a principal role on an episode of “America’s Most Wanted.”
Rosario-Olmedo says providing students who came from low-income and single parent-homes with the chance to perform gave them an outlet to express their emotions and frustrations.
“I found that the kids that had this restlessness, this need to be heard, were really top performers,” she says. “It was a vehicle to channel their emotions.”
Former PS 316 student Brenda Colon, whose son attended the same school when Rosario-Olmedo was principal, recalls having her as a teacher.
“Ms. Rosario-Olmedo was the best, everyone loved her and everyone wanted to perform with her,” Colon says. “Kids that didn’t want to participate would always participate in her class.”
As principal, Rosario-Olmedo established pilot programs for her students to help keep them on track, including a mentorship program with Long Island University’s basketball team, then called The Bluebirds.
Her work has been her reward, and the Renaissance woman’s study room boasts a plethora of distinguished awards and proclamations given to her over the years; among them, Administration of the Year from Phi Delta Kappa, a national professional organization for educators, and achievement accolades from the New York City Council for Education. A large stack of other plaudits fill a blue bag in the back of the room.
“They take up wall space,” says Rosario-Olmedo, who was awarded two Fulbright Scholarship to study Mexican and Chilean anthropology, and how it related to the educational system, and hailed a Fulbright Lifetime Scholar.
Yet every day presents a new opportunity to expand her horizons for the honoree.
“I believe everything you learn opens new doors for you,” says Rosario-Olmedo.
NEIGHBORHOOD: Park Slope.
OCCUPATION: Educator and chief executive officer.
COMPANY: CGO Property Corporation, and DATLO.
CLAIM TO FAME: “Try to give back to humanity what God and life have been generous enough to give to me.”
FAVORITE BROOKLYN PLACE: Park Slope.
WOMAN I ADMIRE: “My mother, who was a woman of great strength of character, tenacious in achieving her goals, of superior intellect and extreme humaneness, and a natural-born teacher.”
MOTTO: “Nothing is impossible, but you must work hard for it.”