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This was the home of Rafael "Maestro" Cordero, an influential teacher who is widely regarded as the father of public education in Puerto Rico. This was his home where he also operated a school starting in 1810 that was open to all children regardless at a time when educational opportunities were usually tied to one's wealth and skin color. The historic home was restored, with plans to operate as a museum that would share the history of "La Escuela del Maestro," which translates to the School of the Master. The home was also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“The School of Master Rafael Cordero” by Francisco Oller, 1890

“The School of Master Rafael Cordero”  by Francisco Oller, 1890

Rafael Cordero was born on October 24th, 1790 in San Juan Puerto Rico, to two free African American parents who were both Artisans. Rafael Cordero also had two sister's whose names are Gregoria and Celesina Cordero. His older sister Celesina was also a self-educator, and later followed in her brother's footsteps and began teaching as well. Unfortunately, even though his parents were free, African Americans were still unable to attend school, where at the time Blacks were not even allowed to be enrolled.  

Nevertheless, Cordero took his love to read, learn, and most importantly teach to help mainly poor Black children receive an education. Rafael taught subjects covering mathematics, reading, calligraphy and religious instructions for the Christian faith. Bishop Juan Alejo de Arizmendi presented Cordero with the Sacrament of Confirmation at the age of fourteen where he dedicated his life to being Catholic, which explains why religious instruction would be a part of his teaching curriculum. As time went on, he opened his curriculum to all people of any race or economic class in 1810.

Rafael Cordero worked as a cigar maker and shoemaker to support himself and his love of teaching the children. Cordero was presented with an award of one hundred pesos for his outstanding job of teaching the less fortunate. He took half of this to buy clothes and books for his students rather than using it for himself. The school on Luna Street was maintained and thrived for fifty-eight years, teaching any child who needed assistance.

Rafael Cordero passed away on July 5th, 1868 in his hometown of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Also known as the "Father of Public Education" in Puerto Rico, the well-respected and devoted self-educator had more than 2,000 people attend his funeral. There are several schools named after Rafael Cordero to honor him, as well as poems, books, paintings, and awards given to teachers in Puerto Rico, called the National Medal of Rafael Cordero.

Delano, Jack. Delano, Irene. En busca del Maestro Rafael Cordero. Puerto Rico. Universidad De Puerto Rico; 1 edition, May 1,1994.

Enciclopedia De Puerto Rico. April 16, 2009.

Project Gutenberg Self-Publishing Press.

Moral, Solsiree Del. Negotiating empire: the cultural politics of schools in Puerto Rico, 1898-1952. Madison: The University of Wisconsin press, 2013. 

Swift, M. “Rafael Cordero: The Father of Public Education in Puerto Rico.” Black Then, 18 June 2021, 

Tuck, Jay N. Gonzalez-Paz, Elisie E. Heroes of Puerto Rico. Fleet Pr Corp, March 1, 1970.