As 2018 draws to a close, I have been reflecting on where we’ve been and where we are going in our efforts to ensure every student in Duval County receives a high-quality public education.
This year has marked a hopeful new moment in public education. We welcomed new leadership at Duval County Public Schools and transitioned leadership at JPEF. This week, our partners at DCPS announced that Duval County’s graduation rate is a record-high 85.1 percent, with significant strides in closing the gap for African-American students. This is a great accomplishment we should all be proud to celebrate.
The second- and third-grade students I taught at S.P Livingston Elementary are preparing to graduate next year. I recently visited William M. Raines Senior High to celebrate one of the five finalists for 2019 Florida Blue Duval County Teacher of the Year, and connected with a former student who is now a senior at Raines. Hearing from him was yet another reminder of how this work is both deeply personal and a part of our collective journey to help our city’s children reach their potential.
As we look back on the last several years, we can be proud of the significant strides we’ve made in graduation rates and other metrics. And we can commit to working together to double down on our efforts in 2019 – the year of JPEF’s 10th anniversary. Through a focus on school quality, we can improve student proficiency and continue to close achievement gaps. We can set even more of our students up for success beyond their K-12 schooling.
JPEF is committed to playing our part to help inform, engage and inspire the leaders in and around our schools to ensure our children and youth receive the educational opportunities they need to thrive in life. We look forward to the impact we’ll have as we deepen our support of great teachers, great leaders and engaged communities.
As you take some time with your loved ones this holiday season, I hope you’ll join your JPEF family to reflect on the role you’ve played so far, and to envision the impact you can have in 2019 and beyond. Thank you for all you have done to support public education this year. We wish you a happy and restful holiday season.