In December 2016, Orange County Public Schools Superintendent Barbara Jenkins was named one of four finalists for the 2017 AASA National Superintendent of the Year award. The winner will be announced on March 2, 2017 in New Orleans.
Jenkins, who has been serving as superintendent for OCPS since 2012, has dedicated more than 25 years to her career in education. Here, she shares about her achievements and future goals.
What have you learned from past experiences that you brought into your role as OCPS superintendent and how has it shaped the work you do in the district?
During the early years of my career I was a teacher and a principal, so I will always consider their perspectives in my current role. I have always been driven by opportunities to ensure that children receive a high-quality education. I want to see every child succeed and believe we are required to give extra attention to those children whose fragile futures depend upon their public education experience. My passion is aligned with the district mission: to lead our students to success with the support and involvement of families and the community.
During the 2015-16 school year, OCPS achieved an all-time high graduation rate at 92.2 percent. How did your leadership help the district and its students get there?
Our school board and my entire administrative team have been focused on this goal. We track data closely throughout the high school years in order to direct students to positive outcomes. Paramount to our efforts is the work done in high schools by our principals, assistant principals, teachers and guidance counselors.
What achievement are you most proud of in your career?
Winning the national Broad Prize for Urban Education in 2014 was a significant achievement for our district. If I had to pick just one, it would be the Broad Prize, which indicated that OCPS was making great strides in student achievement for all students.
What are your goals for the students and school district moving forward?
We have so many priorities for the coming years. We want our graduation rate to continue to grow, along with our industry certifications, so that children leave our schools with a bright future and a plan for college and career. We want to complete our 1:1 digital curriculum throughout the district, expanding from the current distribution of 77,000 laptops to students. OCPS will continue to pursue excellence in state accountability outcomes, mastering the tests that are required of students. We want to ensure that we serve the whole child and that every student experiences success.
What would it mean to you to be named the National Superintendent of the Year?
I would be honored to represent the fine superintendents of our nation who give of themselves tirelessly on behalf of our children.