By Kathy Collins
The Greater Seffner Area Chamber of Commerce gathered at Armwood High School in Seffner earlier this month for a meeting with Superintendent of Hillsborough County Schools as the guest speaker for the day. With 212,000 students and over 25,000 employees, Hillsborough is the eighth largest school district in the nation.
As host for the event, Armwood High School was on display. A lunch was provided by the students in Armwood’s Culinary Arts program and each table was hosted by Armwood students.
Armwood, like the school district, is very much looking toward the future. In addition to their Collegiate Academy, which not only prepares students for college and even allows them to graduate with an Associate Degree, Armwood embraces the career side of education with multiple programs that prepares students for life after high school.
According to Eakins, the school district is bringing clarity to its vision and mission. The vision is preparing students for life, and the mission is to provide an education and the support that enables each student to excel as a successful and responsible citizen. In addition, the school district has established a five year plan, the first for the school district. In this plan, students are the most important.
“We have flipped the organizational chart and put the students and families that we serve at the top. Parents made a choice to trust us, and we must take this seriously,” said Eakins. “I have been superintendent for 11 months. It has been everything I expected and nothing I expected.”
The new five year plan has four goals. The first is to increase graduation rates. The second is to communicate with stakeholders. The third is to build strong culture and relationships. The fourth is foundation of financial stewardship.
Hillsborough County Public Schools want to increase the graduation rate from 73.5 percent to 90 percent by the year 2020. One way to increase the graduation rate, according to Eakins, is to look at the skills gap in the community and provide programs that will help students to be successful once they leave high school. To read the full plan, visit www.sdhc.k12.fl.us/doc/ strategicplan or seffnerchamber.com.