At a special called school board meeting, Van Ayres was appointed as interim superintendent, effective Saturday, July 15. Ayres is currently chief of strategic planning and partnerships where he led the district’s five-year strategic plan, all while building community relationships.
Ayres was born and raised in Tampa and has been a lifelong educator with Hillsborough County Public Schools.
He graduated from Jefferson High School in 1992. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Tampa, he began his teaching career in 1997 as a science teacher at Blake High School. In 2003, Ayres was selected to become assistant principal for student affairs and later assistant principal of curriculum at Blake High School.
In 2012, Ayres jumped at the chance to return to his alma mater and was appointed principal at Jefferson High School. Three years later, he was promoted to deputy superintendent, and then spearheaded the work to improve the district’s graduation rate — which increased by 12.2 percentage points over a five-year period.
Ayres comes from a family of educators. His father and mother were both dedicated teachers in Hillsborough County Public Schools. His father, Van, taught at Leto High School for 33 years. His mother, Nuri Ayres, spent 35 years in Hillsborough County Public Schools, as a math teacher at Webb Middle and Jefferson High School and then a beloved principal at both King and Sickles high schools. Ayres’ two children both graduated from Hillsborough County Public Schools, from Blake and Robinson high schools.
“I am truly honored to lead this district. Hillsborough County Public Schools is my home and I know this is one of the best school districts in the nation. We have a lot of work ahead of us as we prepare to open schools and welcome our 210,000 students back to the classrooms. I look forward to this opportunity and thank the school board for their confidence in my leadership,” said Ayres.
On June 15, Superintendent Addison Davis submitted his letter of resignation, and will leave HCPS on Friday, July 14, after three years at the helm of the nation’s seventh-largest school district. During his tenure as superintendent, Davis worked to improve HCPS’ academic ranking from 35th in the state to 19th — the highest ever. Also, during his time in HCPS, Davis’ team solved a $150 million financial deficit and obtained the district’s highest graduation rate of 89.2 percent.