Back-to-school visits


Principal Williams tells me about his plan to raise the performance of Central

Talking with a student at South Hamilton Elementary

Today I continued my “Look, Listen and Learn” tour by visiting Madison County Central School and South Hamilton Elementary School.

I was able to tour about a dozen classrooms, saw students reading and learning about science – the teachers did a great job to make the lessons interesting for the kids.

I appreciate the leadership teams at these schools who took time out of their busy schedules to talk about their successes and challenges. It was also a joy to speak with and interact with students. It was very clear that they were excited to be back at school!


The wheels on the bus are going round and round

Guest post by DOE Director of School Transportation Charlie Hood

The beginning of school doesn’t just mean the start of classes and homework – it means a big increase in traffic, both vehicle and pedestrian. Our Florida bus drivers are up for the challenge and take pride in getting your students to school safely and on time.

How many hours of training and certification have you had to go through to get a job? Maybe a lot, maybe close to none; but, if you work with students, chances are you have been physically and mentally tested for everything under the sun – and rightfully so.

The same is true for Florida’s school bus drivers.

The rigorous process of training (40 hours at a minimum), drug and alcohol testing, (even checking with previous employers for past drug test results) and rigorous physical exams are all part of the qualifications necessary for bus drivers. As you can see, school bus drivers are evaluated for quite a few things. And then of course, they have to meet the requirements to do the job – and that’s to operate a moving vehicle safely from each stop to and from the school – while managing student behavior.

School buses are extremely safe tanks, with each one featuring an assortment of safety mechanisms that well exceed what any other vehicle must have. In fact, each bus can take a great deal of impact without crushing, and the seats are set up to protect riders if an accident occurs. 

Does your child take the bus to school? Why or why not? 

As a side note, I encourage educators, parents and other drivers to brush up on how to safely maneuver school zones and buses. Be safe out there, and have a wonderful school year!

Look, Listen and Learn

Florida Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson

As a newly arrived Virginia transplant, let me first express just how excited I am to be Florida’s Commissioner of Education.

Leading up to my move here to the Sunshine State I wanted to make sure I hit the ground running through a “look, listen and learn” approach, giving me a chance to talk with staff, educators and policy leaders.

Fittingly enough, my first major opportunity to get feedback came from public school teachers and school district superintendents. In the weeks and months ahead I plan to continue these efforts, whether it is through in-person visits or social media opportunities. I will also be posting on this blog regularly about my experiences and opinions as they relate to a variety of different educational issues impacting our state, so make sure you check back in as often as possible. 

Additionally, with the new school year rapidly approaching I plan to be out and about to continue listening and learning. But if you don’t catch me in person, drop a comment or idea on any of our other social media sites or via email at

Florida is a great place for public education and I am anxious to see what kind of successes we can create for our students in the coming years. I am looking forward to hearing from you!