I am grateful, honored, and humbled to be selected to participate in Leadership Florida Education Class IV. The opportunity to work with and learn from education leaders throughout the state to help every child reach their full potential is incredibly exciting. My education roots are deep.
My initial role as an educator took place when I was 10. My friend Sandy and I ran the S&B Nursery School for two weeks during the summer for a group of neighborhood children who had not yet started kindergarten. I loved it. We even made graduation caps and gowns for the children out of tissue paper and poster board. My passion for educating and interacting with children continued to grow, leading me to pursue a degree in elementary education. After college, I blended two of my loves, education and theatre, serving first as a teaching artist, then as associate director, and later as Director of Education for Florida Studio Theatre for more than twenty years.
My experiences in the thousands of art-integrated workshops I conducted for elementary, middle, and high schools made me very aware of the importance of reading proficiency as a cornerstone for all future learning and eventually led me to the position I now hold with The Patterson Foundation as Director of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.
Currently, only 57% of Florida’s third-grade students can read at or above grade-level. The shortfall in reading proficiency is especially pronounced among low-income children.
I believe we can do better, and that is why I’m excited and energized to participate in Leadership Florida Education Class IV. Each session during the next several months will provide a comprehensive look at K–12 education from international, national, and statewide perspectives to advance K–12 outcomes in Florida. Programs will focus on educational systems, examination of best practices, schools, classrooms, partnerships, innovation, and more.
It will take leaders working together, tackling the tough subjects, listening deeply to the wisdom and life experiences of others, and encouraging and promoting cross-sector collaboration to advance our children to the success they deserve.