Encourage: to give support, confidence, or hope to someone.
Each year, I choose a word to focus on as I strive to achieve my personal and professional goals, and for 2018 – my last as Florida’s Education Commissioner – I have chosen “encourage.”
Teaching is one of the single most important professions in the world, and we have more than 187,000 teachers serving students and families through their work in Florida’s classrooms. They inspire daily the next generation of leaders to reach their full potential, and the Florida Teacher of the Year Program is one way for us to show our appreciation for their hard work and to provide encouragement to those who have devoted their lives to encouraging others.
While not the easiest or highest-paying career, I know from experience that teaching is by far one of the most rewarding. This is particularly true in Florida, where our students excel year after year, even as we continue to raise the bar.
- Our graduation rate is at a fourteen-year high at 82.3 percent, an increase of 23.1% since 2003-2004, and more than half of our graduates graduate with either college credit or industry certification;
- Our fourth grade readers outperform readers in the rest of the nation;
- We are the first in the nation in participation of students in Advanced Placement and fourth in the nation in performance on the AP tests; and
- The 2017 statewide, standardized assessment scores rose and students narrowed the achievement gap across multiple subjects and grades.
These improvements are not a coincidence. They underscore the essential role that educators play in our communities and they represent increased opportunity for Florida students, who will soon be entering the workforce and serving as leaders on the local, state and national levels.
At the Florida Department of Education, we are proud to offer our state’s educators access to professional development that helps them strengthen their instructional practices, cultivate their leadership skills and enhance their ability to share their knowledge with their colleagues.
This year, we have new sponsors who are making these opportunities possible. We are grateful for their ongoing support and excited to expand upon the resources available to our state’s educators through the Teacher of the Year Program.
I envision this site as a place for all of us to give and receive encouragement – in 2018 and beyond – and I look forward to joining the education community on this meaningful journey.