cristo rey

The Cristo Rey Network – Transforming the Future

cristo rey

The Cristo Rey Network

The Cristo Rey Network delivers a distinctive approach to inner-city education. They equip students with the knowledge, character, and skills that transform their lives. Cristo Rey has established a culture of high-expectations. Their program blends four elements for their students through college. Those elements are:

  • A rigorous academic program.
  • Four years of professional work experience.
  • Catholic moral values.
  • Support for students.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with the founder and President of Cristo Rey, Charles D. Imbergamo.

Charles D. Imbergamo

The Lyfe Magazine: How is Cristo Rey Tampa High School different from any other private school?cristo reyCharles D. Imbergamo: There are many things that make us different. The first is that 100% of our school enrollment is from the low-income bracket. Also, we combine our rigorous academic program with our corporate work study program. This provides all the students with an entry level position. Unlike any other private schools, this set us apart.

The Lyfe Magazine: Before we get into Cristo Rey, let’s tell everyone about yourself. How did you become evolved in Cristo Rey Tampa?

Charles D. Imbergamo: Sure, I’m Charlie D. Imbergamo, President and CEO of Cristo Rey Tampa High School. I’m from New York. I grew up on the boarder of Queens and New York. I began as a teacher and I’ve been in private base educations for almost 25 years. All I ever wanted to be was a high school Spanish cristo reyteacher. But other opportunities evolved from my coaching, athletic, school administration activities. So, one thing lead to the other and I ended as an assistant principal. This school was on the boarder of the United States and Mexico in Brownsville Texas. I worked there for 10 years. From there I went on to become an assistant principle, principal and president.

The Lyfe Magazine: Wow, that’s very exciting and interesting at the same time.

Charles D. Imbergamo: As the school needed me, I assumed those other positions.

The Lyfe Magazine: How did that experience connect you to Cristo Rey?

Charles D. Imbergamo: I went to be president and CEO of a school a little bit north of Brownsville. In that cristo reyposition, I happen to meet some people within the Cristo Rey network. One in particular was the foundering president of the Cristo Rey in Huston. He was also a dear friend of mine. I say was because he was a priest and he died of stomach cancer at 44 years old.

The Lyfe Magazine: Oh, I’m sorry.

Charles D. Imbergamo: Thank you.

The Lyfe Magazine: So, you ended up in Florida after 16 years in Texas?

Charles D. Imbergamo: Yes, I have a lot of family and friends in Florida. All the people who are closest to me are here. My folks are here, retired here and still alive thank God. So, I was looking for an opportunity to get back to Florida. A friend of mine also posted on Facebook that Tampa was starting a Cristo Rey school. They were looking for a president for the school.

The Lyfe Magazine: Well if that’s not God aligning the stars, I don’t know what is.

Charles D. Imbergamo: Yes, the signs were all over the place, so if I wanted to make the move now was the time to do it. So, I applied to the board’s national search for a president, interviewed and selected.

The Lyfe Magazine: Did you feel you didn’t have the skills to take on the position as founder of Cristo Rey Tampa?

Charles D. Imbergamo: The skill set, some of it I didn’t know I had and some of it I don’t have. But what I do have is heart, dedication, commitment and love for young people. I also have a belief in what we are doing here at Cristo Rey. So, I’ve managed to assemble a wonderful team of people in which you’ve meet that have the same passion as I do for young people.

cristo reyThe Lyfe Magazine: Yes, I have had the pleasure of meeting many of your staff and I must say, they all are duplications of you. I love hearing you have dedication, commitment and love for young people. Where does that core belief come from?

Charles D. Imbergamo: Service. My dad was a social worker for the city of New York. My mother was a hospital administrator. I also had a maternal grandmother that lived with us when I was growing up. So, my upbringing in education, community and neighborhood taught me to see the need and meet the need. Don’t ask too many questions. If you see somebody in need, you seek to help, you seek to serve always. I learned the value of God in one’s life and service to your community.

The Lyfe Magazine: What is Cristo Rey core value?

Charles D. Imbergamo: Our core value is to create young people that will take part in society. They will use their education and real work experience to form their foundation. Cristo Rey Tampa is proud that we admit traditional, under deserved young men and women. We hope that these young men and women will lead lives filled with faith, love and hope.

The Lyfe Magazine: What you think students say about you?

Charles D. Imbergamo: What does he do all day? They know what the principal, teacher, dean or coach does. So, they wonder what I do all day but they know I love them and will challenge them.

The Lyfe Magazine: There are 32 Cristo Rey schools in 19 states and the District of Columbia. These schools provide a quality education to 10,000 young people. Most of whom live in urban communities with limited educational options. What are your hopes?

Charles D. Imbergamo: If you see somebody in need, seek to help and seek to serve always.