I’ve always felt that my passion for education began years before I started teaching in Florida’s public schools at Ward-Highlands Elementary in 1981. In fact, even my personal life is deeply connected to education issues, as the mother and mother-in-law of two outstanding teachers and grandmother of two elementary school students.
While in St. Johns County on Friday, I wasn’t just visiting local students, teachers and parents as the Commissioner of Education. I was reunited with them as a friend and colleague. Before joining the Department of Education as Chancellor of Schools last year, I served as the St. Johns County Deputy Superintendent.
A few weeks ago, Superintendent of St. Johns County schools, Dr. Joseph Joyner, invited Chancellor of Workforce Education Rod Duckworth and me on a tour of innovative programs and career academies at area schools. I was delighted to meet with so many educators employing new ways to meet the needs of today’s students.
Friday morning, I met with officials at Bartram Trails High School where students from the Academy of Design and Construction unveiled their new “green” project. The large tree sculpture they had planted in the school’s courtyard was “green” in more ways than one. The sculpture was created from the ingenuity of 11 career academy students and more than 200 recycled plastic bottles. It was wonderful to watch these students share their passion for architecture and project-based learning.
Bartram Trails is not a stranger to student-led, hands-on projects. In 2005, the school partnered with VyStar Credit Union to provide a student bank, fostering financial literacy and business leadership.
Another blog will be on its way this week detailing other exciting programs I visited in St. Johns County.