La Biblioteca names Rita DeBrito Interrim President

By Ken Rowland, Immediate Past President

Rita DeBrito

As La Biblioteca Publica celebrates its 60th year as the heart of San Miguel, it is also celebrating a reinvigoration of its relationship with the community, determining ways to most effectively continue to develop the extraordinary service it has always provided the residents and visitors of San Miguel.

La Bibiblioteca has changed our community not only in the measurable ways of improving education of San Miguel’s youth and providing meeting space and cultural opportunities to the all residents, but also in the intangible effect it has had on the friendly face of all our neighbors. Not only do hundreds of children attend afternoon classes, but a hundred more come each week to read, do homework, and socialize in a nurturing environment. How different would our town be if these hundreds of students in the last three generations had not had the experience of spending their afternoons in a place where courtesy and respect are the self-imposed norms and instead had spent their time after school hanging out on street corners where the highest respect is given to the least sociable?

Bilingual education and cultural enrichment, whether through our library facilities, informal group study, direct classes, or scholarship support, are the foundation, walls and ceiling of La Biblioteca. The 18th century building that serves as our home emphasizes the continuing commitment to serve in the heart of San Miguel.

Rita Debrito, the interim president of La Bibliotheca, is the perfect person to carry on and develop the mission established 60 years ago. She has served on the Board for five years, and has been directly involved in every aspect of the educational services. She has been vice president and is chair of both the Becas and Education Committees.  Rita began the Science Club that has been extremely successful for 10 years, and is committed to the continued development of all our programs.

Rita has been an educator for more than 35 years, specializing in second language acquisition through science education. She has taught graduate courses for 20 years in several major universities, and has developed curricula for The Museum of Modern Art and The American Museum of Natural History in NYC, as well as for the Bronx Museum of the Arts. In addition to serving as an advisor in many prestigious programs, including meetings at the White House with then Vice President Al Gore and Richard Riley, the director of Education.  She served on a variety of boards including the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, the board of the American Museum of Natural History, and the Tiorati Workshop for Environmental Education at Bank Street College.

Rita has provided staff development throughout the US, Puerto Rico, Guatemala and now, Mexico. In addition to her vast understanding of education, Rita knows the staff of La Biblioteca and the financial and cultural opportunities we face make her the perfect person to take the position as President at this time.

Almost all members of La Biblioteca’s Board of Directors are bilingual, as she is. For the first time in my nine years experience on the Board, with Rita’s leadership, it will be able to conduct meetings in Spanish, with English translation for visitors. This will enable a much closer bond and greater understanding between the Board, which makes policies, and the staff, which carries out policy.

I will continue to serve La Biblioteca in any way my experience might be useful, as I have told Rita and all members of the Board. I am stepping down from my official position both because I believe that she is more qualified for our present needs and to allow myself more time for personal activities.

In October, there will be a special election for president.  It is my hope that our community will follow the lead of the Board of La Biblioteca and formally elect Rita.

I know that all our community will give support to Rita as the new President of La Biblioteca and, and I hope you will also give attention to the coming changes and offer financial support as well as emotional and volunteer support for the institution. This is the 60th anniversary year of La Biblioteca, and the federal government has honored us with a contract for another 20 years to use the building to serve as the heart of cultural unity in San Miguel. The achievements of La Biblioteca have added greatly to our community. The programs of La Biblioteca have changed lives. With your continued support, it will continue to enhance all of our lives.


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