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Former DCPS teachers join Jacksonville Public Education Fund staff ready to drive local mission to improve public schools

August 14, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Former DCPS teachers join Jacksonville Public Education Fund staff ready to drive local mission to improve public schools

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Aug. 14, 2017 — As principals welcome staff and students back to school, Jacksonville Public Education Fund (JPEF) also welcomed Rachael Tutwiler Fortune, ReGina F. Newkirk, Zachary Champagne and Laura Alrutz –  all former Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) teachers to its staff this summer. These former educators bring their expertise to JPEF in support of the organization’s new mission: to spark innovation, relationships and resources to power the potential within and around our public schools to achieve excellent outcomes for all students. 

Rachael Tutwiler Fortune joined the JPEF team May 4 as Executive Vice President. Tutwiler Fortune began her career as a teacher at S.P. Livingston Elementary School after being selected as a Teach for America – Jacksonville charter corps member.

A Jacksonville native and product of Duval County Public Schools, Tutwiler Fortune returned from Washington, D.C. where she served as Senior Director of Alliance Engagement at America’s Promise Alliance. A member of the Senior Leadership Team, she was responsible for leading the GradNation Campaign, which strove to close graduation gaps in states and communities across our nation. Tutwiler Fortune holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of North Florida and a master’s degree in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership from Stanford University. Among other leadership roles, she served as UNF’s second African American female Student Government President.

Prior to her work at America’s Promise Alliance, Tutwiler Fortune was selected a Presidential Management Fellow and served as a Program Officer at the U.S. Department of Education in the Office of the Deputy Secretary and later the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. She managed a portfolio of multimillion-dollar Race to the Top grants and supported state education agency implementation of K-12 policies and programs during the Obama Administration.

Tutwiler Fortune oversees the JPEF’s programmatic work in advocacy, communications, data and research, community mobilization and educator excellence initiatives. Together with her program colleagues, she works to deliver JPEF’s strategy to power the potential in and around local public schools.

ReGina F. Newkirk, Director of Development, joined the JPEF team July 17. Newkirk brings over fifteen years of fundraising experience, including her service as Executive Director of Rocketown in Nashville, TN, and Director of Development, Communications and Community Relations of Whitman-Walker Clinic in Washington, DC. At Rocketown, Newkirk oversaw the $1.2 million organization, as well as successfully managed a $7.4 million capital campaign. During her tenure at Whitman-Walker Clinic, she was responsible for all fundraising, which resulted in approximately $14 million annually. Before her work at Whitman-Walker, Newkirk served as the director of grants and corporate relations for the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington where she oversaw all grant requests, grants management and corporate sponsorship proposals.

Most recently, Newkirk has been serving the educational needs of children in the classroom as a 5th grade math teacher at KIPP Impact Middle School, then as a 4th grade math teacher at Andrew Robinson Elementary School. Newkirk joined Teach for America in 2013, where she served as an elementary school teacher to Title I students in Oklahoma City. Her students made significant gains in math and reading, and she was an integral part of improving her school’s grade from an F to a C. 

Newkirk was born in Fort Collins, CO, and raised in Nashville. She graduated with highest honors from New York University with a B.F.A. in Dramatic Writing. She received her Master’s degree in Communications from the University of Tennessee.

Zachary Champagne, Director of Advocacy and Program, joined the JPEF team Aug. 15. Champagne spent thirteen years as an elementary school teacher, specializing in math and science. He received many state and national awards for excellence in teaching including the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST), Duval County Teacher of the Year and Finalist for Macy’s Florida Teacher of the Year.

After his time in the classroom, Champagne spent six years as a researcher at the Florida Center for Research in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (FCR-STEM) at Florida State University. Champagne is very active with local, state and national organizations as a founding member and past president of the Duval Elementary Mathematics Council (DEMC), Florida Mathematics Presidential Awardees Association (FMPAA) and current President of the Florida Council of Teachers of Mathematics (FCTM). He also serves on the Editorial Board of Teaching Children Mathematics, an elementary mathematics journal published by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).

Laura Alrutz, Senior Manager of Policy Analysis, joined the JPEF team Aug. 7. Alrutz is a Jacksonville native and a proud product of Duval County Public Schools. Alrutz began her career in education as a sixth grade World History teacher at Ribault Middle School in partnership with Teach For America. During her time in the classroom, Alrutz developed a passion for providing excellent educational opportunities for students. Shortly after, she attended Vanderbilt University Law School where she continued to pursue her commitment to impacting education. For the past two years, Alrutz practiced education law for a firm in Nashville, representing multiple school districts across Tennessee and developing policy for the state. As Senior Manager of Policy Analysis, Alrutz is excited to put her knowledge and skills to work back in the hometown she loves.

Alrutz graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida where she majored in History. She received her Juris Doctorate from Vanderbilt University Law School.

“With our new focus on supporting and growing excellent educators, school leaders and parent advocates, we now we have an incredible team with first-hand experience to inform our work.,” Trey Csar, President of Jacksonville Public Education Fund, said. “I am excited about the year ahead and the potential we have to support teachers and elevate the incredible work happening in and around Duval’s public schools.”

Contact Charmaine Campo, Senior Manager of Marketing & Communications, at (904) 345-0597 or Charmaine@jaxpef.org for more information.

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About the Jacksonville Public Education Fund

The Jacksonville Public Education Fund is an independent nonprofit organization that works to spark innovation, relationships and resources to power the potential within and around our public schools to achieve excellent outcomes for all students. For more information, visit www.jaxpef.org or call (904) 356-7757.