Associate Professor of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies Dr. Gladys Barbosa Labas is celebrating a major milestone — 50 years in both higher and early education.
Labas has played a crucial role in providing young children with opportunities in classrooms across Connecticut.
She attended the University of Puerto Rico, where she studied English and Spanish and later became a teacher on the island.
“I was thinking of doing my master’s in Puerto Rico. And then suddenly I’m walking, and I see this big sign that says, ‘Looking for bilingual teachers for CT,’ and I said, ‘Let me check this out,’” Labas said.
In Connecticut, Labas earned her certificates and master’s degree and became an assistant principal at Washington Middle School in Meriden, Conn. That is where she met a young Miguel Cardona, who would one day become the U.S. Secretary of Education under President Joe Biden.
“She was a force to be reckoned with and she still is. She always had high standards, high expectations, she was very warm and caring to students,” Cardona said.
With a career spanning five decades, she has achieved remarkable milestones, such as being the inaugural Latina administrator in an urban school district, co-authoring bilingual legislation in Connecticut, assuming the role of the state’s director for equity and language in education, delivering lectures on bilingual and special education at UConn, and receiving a prestigious Milken Educator Award.
This milestone was highlighted by NBC Connecticut as part of their Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations. Check out the Sept. 21, 2023 story “Bilingual professor known as ‘La Madrina’ celebrates five decades in education”