News & Events

Jacksonville Teacher Residency Program Completes First Year, Graduates Placed in DCPS Schools


Nine residents from the Jacksonville Teacher Residency Program completed their residency year this June and were offered placement in Duval County’s transformation region. The teacher residency program, or JTR, is one of the first QEA investments to be implemented and has yielded positive results both in DCPS schools as well as at the University of North Florida, where residents attend courses in the College of Education and Human Resources.

In the summer of 2014, the first cohort of residents began their journey to becoming effective teachers in science and math by taking master’s level coursework at UNF. Most of their courses were taught jointly by UNF faculty and DCPS teachers, in order to give a blend of theory and practice that research has shown results in high-performing teachers. In August of last year, the residents began to work as interns alongside some of the Duval Transformation Office’s best and brightest teachers. Over the course of the school year, the residents worked in their classrooms perfecting the skills of teaching and classroom management, while also taking classes at UNF learning content and subject-based skills.

To officially culminate the end of their residency and the beginning of their careers as teachers of record, the JTR program staff and DCPS leadership held a “signing day” on May 26. At the signing day event, Dr. Nikolai Vitti, Superintendent, spoke to the new teachers about his own experience as a new teacher and assured them that they were in for the hardest but most rewarding work in the world. Region Superintendent Iranetta Wright, Dean of the UNF College of Education and Human Resources Marsha Lupi and Duval County School Board members Paula Wright and Connie Hall were also in attendance to give words of wisdom and welcome to the group.

“We could not be more proud of this group of individuals. They taught us so much more than we taught them,” said JTR Program Director Chris White from DCPS. Several of the principals of the DTO schools where residents were placed as well as their master teacher mentors joined in the celebration and welcome of their new colleagues in the district.


QEA Fund helps district land $58 million technology investment

School Board Chairwoman Becki Couch and Superintendent Nikolai Vitti announced today that Duval County Public Schools will invest $58 million in upgrading district technology and data systems thanks to private investment and $50 million from the federal Qualified Zone Academy Bond program. The initiative will substantially improve student, teacher and parent access to technology throughout the district.

Learn more:$50-million-technology-investment-for-dcps.aspx

Transformation educators connect with the community


Educators in the Duval Transformation Office schools kicked off pre-planning week with a meaningful and important activity. All teachers in the 36 schools boarded buses with their feeder pattern counterparts from other schools to tour the neighborhoods surrounding the schools via school bus. Learning about the area from community leaders and each other, the teachers also had a chance to connect with their colleagues in new ways.

QEA Program Director Imani Hope shared some reflections from the day on the Jacksonville Public Education Fund blog:

District hosts community events to showcase QEA Fund investments


To engage the community surrounding the 36 schools that are the focus of the Quality Education for All Fund investments, Duval County Public Schools hosted three meetings at Andrew Jackson, William Raines and Jean Ribault high schools. The new Duval Transformation Office coordinated the events, held on July 28, July 31 and August 4.

The marching bands and spirit squads from each high school greeted attendees as they entered the auditorium. The program began with the Duval County School Board members who represent citizens in the area: District 4 representative Paula Wright at Jackson and Ribault and District 5 representative Connie Hall at Raines. Following their welcome, parents, students, teachers and community members in the meeting heard directly from Superintendent Nikolai Vitti on the details of how the QEA Fund came into existence and why it will focus on these three feeder patterns, as well as specifics on the investments to be made.

The presentation led directly into a panel discussion with a diverse group of speakers chosen to give their perspective on QEA will impact their school, community and city. Each panel had a representative from the school’s SAC and PTA, a teacher from the school, a student from the school, a QEA Advisory Board member, a member of The Community Foundation staff and the region chief for the entire Duval Transformation Office, Iranetta Wright. Moderated by Trey Csar, President of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund, and Torin Dailey, Vice Chair of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund Board of Directors, the panels gave the audience a variety of perspectives on what the QEA Fund investments will made in the DTO schools.

Audience members then had a chance to ask questions about the implementation and intended impact of the initiative. Parents, caregivers and community members shared their enthusiasm about this new approach to reform in the Raines, Ribault and Jackson feeder patterns. Many voiced the need for the community to do its part to ensure that the program is successful. The event ended with raffle giveaways and food from the local Red’s Food Truck.

These are the first of what will be many meetings and events geared towards engaging the communities that surround the Transformation region.

Check out another recap on the Jacksonville Public Education Fund blog:

Quality fund aims to ‘transform’ 36 struggling Duval County schools

For many years, most of Duval County’s lowest-scoring schools have been the elementary, middle and high schools in the Ribault, Raines, and Jackson high school regions.

Those 36 schools struggled with high teacher turnover, falling enrollment, frustratingly poor report card grades. Their principals often struggled to fill open positions with high-quality teachers.

Now, these schools are being called “transformation” schools.

About 90 percent of the 200 open positions in those schools are filled, many by some of the district’s highest-scoring teachers, Duval Superintendent Nikolai Vitti told parents last week. He expects all the teachers in place by the first day of school, Aug. 18.

Support transformation and learn more about how the Quality Education for All Fund will help schools who need it most

Duval County Public Schools will host three community meetings to share information about the Quality Education For All Fund (QEA). The QEA Fund is a large pool of private dollars that will be invested in recruiting, retaining and developing the best teachers and leaders for Duval County Public Schools.

The fund will be targeted at schools that have historically needed the most help, they are 36 schools in the feeder patterns of Raines, Ribault and Jackson high schools. But it’s not just about funds – the community’s support is vital to making sure that all schools in our city have what they need to help kids succeed. You can play an important role in helping teachers, leaders and students to have a groundbreaking year.

Here’s how to start: Plan to attend the meetings and learn what you can do to help be a part of the transformation. Bring a friend or two! It will be a fun event with refreshments and a panel discussion where you can hear directly from teachers and students who are being impacted by this initiative!

Here are the dates:

July 28      DTO Community Meeting – Andrew Jackson at 6:00 p.m.

July 31      DTO Community Meeting – Raines High School at 6:00 p.m.

August 4   DTO  Community Meeting – Ribault High School at 6:00 p.m.

For more information, visit or call (904) 348-5312.

New cohort selected for School Leadership Fellowship

The newest cohort of Jacksonville School Leadership Fellows will be attending Columbia University Summer Principal’s Academy for orientation weekend in May. The three newest Fellows will have an opportunity to meet their future classmates and instructors when they spend the weekend in New York City. This second cohort of Fellows will begin their program at Columbia this summer, while the first cohort will complete their fellowship.

Jovanna Hackman is currently working at Northwestern Middle School as a sixth grade SOS Transition Course teacher.  Previously, she was the Lead Teacher in third grade English language arts at Carter G. Woodson Elementary School while a Teach for America Corps Member.
Chelsea S. Matthews is currently the Lead English/Reading teacher and AVID instructor at Northwestern Middle School. She was a Teach for America Corps Member, and was a Teacher of the Year nominee in 2013.  She also serves as a City Year mentor and TEAM-UP supervisor with Communities in Schools.

Brian Ellis is currently an Algebra I Team Lead teacher at First Coast High School, where he has also taught Algebra II and Geometry teacher as a Teach for America Corps Member. He led diversity professional development sessions for the Jacksonville corps focused on the importance of high expectations and developing strong relationships with students.

Jacksonville Teacher Residency will get under way this summer

JTRselectiondayThe Jacksonville Teacher Residency Program (JTR) held its Selection Day event on Saturday April 26 on the campus of the University of North Florida.

Selection Day is a full day of activities such as interviews, small group discussion, sample lessons and group projects designed to assist the program staff in selecting the highest quality candidates for residency. Final candidates will be chosen in May.

The Jacksonville Teacher Residency is a collaboration between University of North Florida and Duval County Public Schools, and will place high-achieving college graduates in classrooms across the 36 schools that represent the Duval Transformation Region, where most Quality Education for All Fund resources will be directed.

For more information on the Jacksonville Teacher Residency, go to




11 First Round of 2014 School Grades Out Today

The Florida Department of Education released 2014 School Grades for elementary and middle schools today.

These are the last grades that will be based on student performance on the FCAT 2.0, with students and teachers fully transitioning to the new Florida Standards (with an affiliated new test) in the 2014-15 school year, as well as a new formula for calculating the grades.

Event recruits high-achieving teachers to Transformation Region schools

Recruitment event

On Friday, April 25, Quality Education for All Fund Advisory Board Chairman Wayne Weaver, Superintendent Nikolai Vitti, School Board members and other district staff were joined by more than 200 teachers in Duval County Public Schools who qualify for performance incentives in the Transformation Region. Weaver spoke to the group about the integral role teachers play in helping students succeed.

Teachers from throughout the county attended the event at the Museum of Science and History to learn more about the initiative, which will provide up to a $17,000 bonus to high-performing teachers who transfer to a Transformation Region school, and will also provide up bonuses of up to $20,000 per year to retain high-performing teachers already working in the Transformation Region.

Teachers who apply to transfer will go through an interview and classroom observation process.