Message from the Superintendent
It is an extraordinary privilege and honor to serve this District and community. We are fortunate to have dedicated teachers, administrators and support staff, all working together to provide essential services to our students and families. From teaching and learning to transporting over 73,000 students to and from school safely each day, serving over 30 million meals each year, maintaining over 36 million square feet of school facilities, and providing a variety of social services to children and families in need of support—we are dedicated to doing what is right for our students.
We remain focused on our District’s three strategic pillars of high-quality instruction, continuous improvement and effective communication. Focusing our efforts on improved collaboration and alignment of our employees and resources will enable us to continue to turn our challenges into opportunities to get better, as we deliver on our strategic priorities.
Today, we face our greatest challenge, which is to achieve consistent, steady and sustainable Districtwide improvements in teaching and learning, while closing achievement gaps.
We are seeing an increase in the number of students from low-income families. In fact, over 60 percent of our students qualify for free or subsidized school lunches. This means that helping students from low-socioeconomic situations to succeed is fundamental to our mission.
There is also an increase in the number of students receiving Exceptional Student Education (ESE) services. We are working with our parents and stakeholders to redesign our processes and resources to improve and personalize the ESE services our students receive.
Although I was fortunate to have two hard working parents, our family did not have a lot of money. Education opened doors to my future, allowing me to become the first in my family to graduate from high school, go to college and attend graduate school. I know that we can deliver on the promise of the American dream—breaking the cycle of generational poverty and creating upward social mobility for future generations. This can be realized if we provide our students with the foundation for success—a high-quality, rigorous education experience.
This foundation starts with excellent early learning and literacy experiences, continues with applied learning where students use their knowledge and skills to solve problems and extend their learning, and culminates with students who are emotionally resilient and academically prepared for the challenges of the global community, as they go on to colleges and careers.
Our students must also develop the social and emotional character traits they need for long-term success, sometimes referred to as non-cognitive skills, which include the ability to manage emotions and to set and achieve positive goals as well as demonstrate resilience, optimism, and responsible decision making. Hence, we must integrate social and emotional learning into our teacher preparation programs and practices, curriculum and academic activities.
We have incredible educators and administrators who work very hard to educate our students. However, we must work smarter and not just harder. We must quickly move away from a one -size fits all model of education to a personalized, experiential-based learning experience for each student.
We have to focus on developing our teachers as much as we seek to develop our students. It is time to rethink teaching and work together to ensure it remains an attractive profession with high standards, quality ongoing professional development, and a career path that recognizes and rewards the most effective teaching professionals who can coach and develop other educators.
I believe we can and must change the world of education. In 1903, two brothers, Wilbur and Orville Wright, after years dealing with critics and overcoming setbacks, persevered with scientific experimentation to achieve the first successful airplane flights. It is an inspiring story of how courage, innovation, vision and collaboration can change the world. So much of history provides us with examples of the seemingly impossible, that through innovative thinking and determination—become reality. Now is the time for us to reinvent public education in Broward County and commit ourselves to doing whatever it takes to ensure the success of all children.
We are not here because of where our students are today, but rather where we can take them tomorrow. I believe we are well on our way to becoming a great school system that will serve as a model for this state and nation. This student centric strategic plan is focused on making this possible.
Robert W. Runcie
Superintendent of Schools