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Never underestimate the people who run Miami-Dade County's public schools. And certainly don't write off Dr. Henry Fraind, whose remarkable rise from driver's ed teacher to deputy superintendent has become the stuff of local lore.
Despite a career trajectory that has landed Dr. Fraind in the position of trusted confidant of the superintendent and media spokesman for the whole bureaucracy (earning $135,000 a year), he remains a modest man, a quiet man. Who would have guessed, for example, that this agent of academe once nurtured dreams of a far more glamorous career -- and one that flaunts the body, not the mind?
No daring should ever go unsung, and if Dr. Fraind (blue-green eyes, dark brown hair) declines to talk about his foray into modeling -- despite repeated requests for comment -- the photographs that arrived anonymously at the New Times office will simply have to speak for themselves. (Through school district attorney Phyllis Douglas, Dr. Fraind does confirm that he dabbled in modeling and acting a few years ago, but his earnings were slim.)
Photos alone, however, cannot do justice to Dr. Fraind's inspired ascent to the loftiest ranks of district administration. For many employees, the school district's promotional system can be frustratingly slow. Not so for Dr. Henry Fraind, who taught high school driving classes and coached football from 1969 until the early Eighties. He earned his Ph.D. in 1982 -- bestowed by Pacific Western University, an innovative but, alas, nonaccredited institution that was subsequently, and many say unjustly, barred from issuing postgraduate degrees in education.
But what Pacific Western may have lacked in curriculum, student Fraind more than made up for in dexterity. Without ever actually visiting the California campus, he proved his mettle in less than one year -- with credits gained for a prodigious accumulation of experience and "functional awareness," not to mention for possession of a real estate license and a dissertation on spelling.
While Dr. Fraind didn't find immediate work befitting his newfound stature (five foot nine), his degree wasn't wasted (36 inches). He positioned himself well for a foot (size 91/2) in the door by volunteering to work for a summer under former superintendent Joe Fernandez as a low-level administrator. Superintendent Octavio Visiedo recognized his hefty (180 pounds) talents and asked him not only to be his driver but also to represent the school board as a media spokesman.
Eventually Dr. Fraind came to supervise operations of the district's sprawling office complex at NE Fifteenth Street and Second Avenue, and in 1994 he helped direct the controversial $1.4 million remodeling of the school board offices.
Current superintendent Roger Cuevas has now made Dr. Fraind his trusted deputy. Dr. Fraind also acts as a liaison between Cuevas and the nine-member school board. Were members aware of his extracurricular aspirations? "I didn't know that he had a second career," says Renier Diaz de la Portilla. "There aren't too many top-level administrators who do that." Diaz de la Portilla expressed no doubts about the deputy's ability to juggle both professions. "He's a man who gets to work around 4:30 to 5:00 a.m. He gets his paperwork done by about 7:00 in the morning. If anyone can find time, it's Dr. Fraind."
Miami photographer and agent Jeff Anderson prepared Dr. Fraind's composites about ten years ago, when Anderson was helping to cast Miami Vice. Anderson believes the school administrator may have had a nonspeaking role in an episode of that television series.
Despite the age of the photos, local modeling agents were still interested in offering their assessment of Dr. Fraind's marketability. "If he came to me and said, 'I want to be a model,' the first thing I'd do is say, 'Get new photos,'" advises Jeff Maher, who opened Forty Plus Model & Talent in Miami Beach two years ago to supply advertisers with older models.
Jason Christenson, a division director at Michelle Pommier Models, would ask Dr. Fraind to shave. "Mustaches haven't been in since Magnum P.I.," he chides. And Elite-Miami director Capucine Castets reports that most of her sixteen-year-old models are taller than Dr. Fraind. "You put a pair of heels on them," she scoffs, "and they'd bury him.