Powering the Global Education Conversation: About edCircuit

State Superintendent of the Year Mentors Young Leaders

She runs the district asking “What is best for the children?”

Dr. Barbara Jenkins, Superintendent of Orange County Public Schools, is well respected by her peers and in the Orlando community and beyond. In fact, she has the awards and accolades to back it up. In 2017 alone she received a presidential appointment as a director of the National Board of Education Sciences, was named Florida Superintendent of the Year, Hispanic-Serving School District Superintendent of the Year and the Florida Association for Career and Technical Education named her CTE Superintendent of the Year.

boy on a swingLike all great leaders, she says an integral part of her job is to put together a stellar team around her who share her vision and can get the job done. She takes it upon herself to engage in coaching and mentoring those with less experience to help them become great leaders, and potentially superintendents in their own right one day.

When Barbara is faced with tough decisions on the direction of the district (the ninth largest in enrollment in the U.S.), she asks the same question every time: What is best for the children?

“Everybody from my operations folks to my facilities leaders to my finance to all of my instructional folks are focused on what is best for children,” she says in this interview. “What we try to drive home is that, somehow, every day in every classroom, every teacher has to be supported in order to make good things happen for all two hundred and eight thousand of our children.”

The children of Orange County, along with their parents and everyone else in the community are lucky to have a leader with that kind of focus on what is important.

About Dr. Barbara Jenkins

Barbara Jenkins, Photo by Roberto GonzalezDr. Barbara Jenkins has been dedicated to serving the needs of students for 30 years. She was named superintendent for Orange County Public Schools in 2012.

Under Dr. Jenkins’ leadership, the district won the prestigious 2014 Broad Prize for Urban Education. The prize earned half-a-million dollars for student scholarships from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation. The district also received the Governor’s Sterling Award in 2014 and 2015 and the Sustained Excellence Award in 2017 for its exemplary performance using research-based best practices in its business.

In 2015, OCPS received District Accreditation from AdvancED for its best practices in the education field. OCPS has repeatedly been recognized by the College Board for increasing access to Advanced Placement coursework, while simultaneously maintaining or increasing the number of students earning exam scores for college credit.

Dr. Jenkins is a recognized education leader. In January 2017, she received a presidential appointment as a director of the National Board of Education Sciences. She serves on the executive board of directors of the Council of the Great City Schools, Chiefs for Change, The Wall Street Journal CEO Council and the Florida Council of 100. She is past president of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents.

In 2017, she was named the Florida Superintendent of the Year and one of four finalists for the national title. The Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents named her Hispanic-Serving School District Superintendent of the Year and the Florida Association for Career and Technical Education named her CTE Superintendent of the Year.

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Further Reading
  1. Orlando Sentinel – Orange County schools chief honored for efforts to serve Hispanics
  2. HuffPo – Texas Superintendent Wants Accountability Controlled by the Community
  3. Victoria Advocate – Replace A-F with community-based accountability system
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