Seeing with newcomers' eyes: A ONE by ONE Delegate's perspective


We moved our family to Jacksonville from Portland, Oregon in August of last year, 2013. Our primary focus when choosing a place to live in Jacksonville was what school(s) our children, one ten-year old and one eight-year old, would attend. In Portland, our children had attended a K-12 Spanish Immersion magnet program and an inner city project-based curriculum focused charter school. Our family is in favor of school choice and the best school fit for the child's learning style.

I have been fortunate enough to attend two "Discover Duval Schools" tours. Our first trip was to Robert E. Lee High School and the second was to visit Darnell Cookman's Medical Magnet Middle/High School. In addition, I have attended the Jacksonville Community Council Inc's "Urban Safari," where we attended Paxon High School, KIPP Charter Schools, and West Jacksonville Elementary School. At each of these schools, we were greeted by passionate staff, typically principals giving us tours, sharing their deep commitment to their kids and the best quality education they could provide.  

Being a school choice advocate, I found this refreshing. Judgment of the performance of a school cannot be limited to a 'grade' on a website. You must go in, see for yourselves what is being taught, the achievements and challenges that are truly happening.


Attending the Second Annual ONE by ONE Convention in a jam-packed, energy-charged room full of students, educators, parents, community and business leaders was inspiring. The Jacksonville community has put their boots on the ground and committed themselves to changing the perception and performance of the Duval County School District. Listening to the efforts that led to the convention and to hear what actionable next steps that room full of community-minded folks were willing to do, make their, our climb look more doable.

At the convention, I committed to spreading the word about what opportunities are available for community members to visit our schools, to help teachers learn how to find funding for their projects, and to find out more ways that the businesses and community members can support and get involved with the district.  I encourage you to join me. Visit our schools on a Discover Duval Schools Tour, fund a teacher's classroom project at PowerUP Jax, read about the perception of Duval Schools, and get your business or community group involved with a local school in the Duval County Public School district.


Sarah Smith,

2014 ONE by ONE Delegate




of public schools in Duval County earned an "A," "B," or "C" in 2021-2022.