Kensington Park Elementary School sits on a nine acre plot of land that had been part of an estate donated to build a junior high school. In 1947, 120 new homes were built between 30th and 34th Avenues and 7th and 11th Streets. Only World War II veterans were allowed to buy these homes, which created a need for an elementary school to be built on the nine acres. Because the parents were veterans, the school began initially with 10 portables that were obtained from the Opa Locka Naval Station.
Within two years, the school reached its capacity of 300 students, and the original building, which replaced the portables, was dedicated in 1951. There was a time capsule placed behind the plaque in the cornerstone that tells the early story of Kensington.
Kensington sits on land that is considered to be the second highest elevation in Miami-Dade County, and, it is on a coral vein. Prior to 1949, the school compound was heavily wooded with wild oak trees, cabbage palm trees, and wild berries. There were two Seminole Indian villages north of 14th Street and 27th Avenue, and the Indians frequently visited this compound for the cabbage palms which they used for food, and hunted for wild turkeys and land turtles.
The parents in this community have always been active in fundraising as well as physical activities. Since the school compound was rocky, sitting as such on a coral vein, the parents formed a “bucket brigade” and removed most of the loose coral rocks so that students would not be injured if they fell. They were responsible for purchasing the first piano for the school. Before the school was air-conditioned in 1974, the parents planted large ficus trees to shade the classrooms.
The PTA has traditionally been very active and involved in sponsoring Spaghetti Dinners, pizza sales, the annual Fall Festival and Haunted House, the Winter Carnival, and other important fundraisers.
Kensington Park has piloted many programs for the Miami-Dade School System. In 1978, it became the first school chosen to have an Exceptional Student Pre-Kindergarten. In 1980, Kensington Park became an Exceptional Student Center for autistic, trainable mentally handicapped and varying exceptionalities. In 1987, regular Pre-kindergarten classes were offered to four year olds. Most recently, we initiated a new program called Florida First Start, which provides parenting classes and ESOL classes for members of our community.
In the early years, our school had 13 teachers and an enrollment of 300 students. Today, we are a staff of 150 and an enrollment of 1167 students. The following staff members have been at Kensington for more than 20 years: Nieves Sanchez-Arce, Zonia Balmana, Luis Alvarinas, Guy Thompson, Adriana Ramirez, Vivan Veiga, Sylvia Shields, Yamile Navarro, Maria Garza, Vivan del Rio, Maria-Elena Valdez Painceira, Amarilys Colunga, Lissett Muniz, Sharon Corman, Lourdes De Almagro, Mercedes Gonzales, Shawna Nesbitt, Wendy Bobadilla, Margarita Rodriguez, Daivis Carballosa, Mory Hernandez, and Coach Melvin Blanco.
Some of our former students are now a part of our current staff: Maria Perez, Ana Betancourt, and Wayne Gutshall. Mrs. Askew, a former First Lady of Florida once taught at Kensington. Officer Fernandez is a neighborhood police officer for the City of Miami, and Frank Bolanos is a former School Board Member. The faculty, staff, parents and community partners have always been dedicated to meeting the needs of our current student body, and are proud of their accomplishments.