My summer at JPEF: a future educator learns from Duval’s teachers of the year


Guest blogger Christian Bilgrien is a senior at the University of Florida studying Elementary Education. He is currently interning with JPEF, and believes strongly in an equitable education system. He appreciates JPEF’s efforts to work towards ensuring fair and equal education for all students.

While looking for an internship over the summer, I stumbled upon the Jacksonville Public Education Fund (JPEF). After talking to Interim President Rachel Fortune and reading about the company’s dedication to equity, I knew it was the place for me; what followed was one of the best work experiences I have ever had.  

JPEF appealed to my desire to serve schools, with a mission focused on supporting teachers and students and working towards an increasingly fair and equitable classroom. I began my study of education committed to putting students first--an incredibly important but difficult task. When done right, unmotivated students gain a sense of motivation and find a role model who they strive to impress, which is one of the most rewarding aspects of teaching.

While at JPEF, I have worked with Zak Champagne to plan the 2019 EDDYs Awards, which celebrates Duval County’s teachers of the year. In addition, I have had the opportunity to work with the previous year’s finalists, giving me valuable insight into the field of education and guidance from amazing teachers for when I have a classroom of my own. This summer was absolutely fantastic, and working with JPEF was insightful, rewarding and fun!




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