Building a Strong Foundation for Students

Author: Jeff Eakins, Superintendent, Hillsborough County Public Schools

September 15, 2015

Life is all about connections; to our neighbors, to community services, to our school. As the largest employer in Hillsborough County we must connect our students to their future, through engaged curriculum and a staff that is ready to help them fulfill their dreams.

As educators, we typically focus our curriculum, our programs, and our policies on ensuring students get to graduation day. Graduation is truly a milestone and an important day to celebrate, but I’d like to point out it is just one day in a student’s life. In Hillsborough County Public Schools our focus is guiding students to the day after graduation. What does that mean?

We have flipped our organizational chart, putting students at the top with every employee; from bus drivers, custodians, teachers, guidance counselors, administrators and everyone in our district offices, supporting the students at the base of the chart. Every decision we make moving forward is with our students’ future in mind.

It starts with a change in culture in our schools and district offices providing the best customer service to our families, our partners, and the community. Our employees must understand we are all here to be advocates for our students and we all have a role in ensuring their success.
Through the leadership of our school board members they have identified key priorities that increase engagement at every level and tackle the critical issues facing our students. The number one priority is increasing our graduation rate through clear benchmarks, building relationships, and affective communications. This is also in response to our recent reaccreditation by the AdvancED Accreditation Commission which has identified several areas we must improve in over the next five years. The Commission provided directives on how to engage students and create a more diverse workforce for our community.

With 206,000 students and 25,000 employees, our organization plays a key role in the success of this community. It is our goal and our responsibility to educate the next workforce and provide our students with experiences that will ensure they are successful after high school. We know in order to prepare students for the future we must engage the community to work alongside us. The partnerships we have already fostered and those we must continue to develop will only ensure a more diverse workforce for our students to enter. Our goal is to give our students a clear understanding of all the Tampa Bay region has to offer.

We work in our schools to build a strong foundation for our students. It starts with academics but character development, life skills, and leadership training create a worker that will be more productive and more attractive to a future employer. I, along with School Board Members, am dedicated to connecting our students to this community. I have put out a call to action to everyone in our district to identify the role they play in the success of our students and work to assure they are providing a strong school culture each and every day. Follow us as we grow our connections @HillsboroughSch.

Category: Education Excellence

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