Courtney Weatherby-Hunter serves as Director of Fund Development for the Jacksonville Public Education Fund
Tell us a little bit about you and how you came to JPEF.
I am a Jacksonville native who is a product of our public school system. I pride myself on being a public school graduate. I still have the same 3 friends I attended elementary school with and feel strongly that attending public school shaped who I am, my values and career path. I came to JPEF after a mutual friend introduced me to Rachael. One meeting with her and you believe immediately in what the team at JPEF is doing, not only in our schools but the effect the work is having on our community.
Why does public education matter to you personally?
Public education is the backbone to our community. I grew up with a very community engaged family. From a dad who was in public service to a mom who ran local political campaigns. At an early age, I knew my local school board representative and attended meetings, always being told why I should care even at a young age. I carry that with me now. In a time where our schools are not simply just academic, but providing so many wrap around services for students, our support of them matters now more than ever.
Why are you excited to lead JPEF’s development strategy?
I am incredibly fortunate as JPEF has set such a strong foundation in their development department, from the board to their supporters to their strategic plan. To be able to join at a time when our focus is on improving teacher diversity, grade level reading and working to support our teachers, I feel lucky to be a part of such important initiatives.
Tell us about a teacher who made an impact on your life.
In college I had a sociology professor who was so engaging and excited about studying human behavior that I changed my major. He was not a lecturer, but a true teacher. Asking students hard questions and allowing them to have healthy debates. It became so much more than a required class. When I worked on campus, his daughter attended the day care facility I worked at, allowing me to get to know his family and continue learning more about “being a community citizen”. As I moved around early on in my career, our paths continued to cross, whether at a speaking engagement, serving on a board or simply enjoying the Jacksonville community. One stand out was when he brought his friend, Desmond Tutu, to speak in Jacksonville. I remember shaking his hand then turning to my professor and thanking him for such an incredibly experience.