Welcome Back Okaloosa Schools

We are so honored to welcome our students and parents back to a brand new school year.  It seems like just yesterday we were handing out diplomas and attending promotion ceremonies.  Yet, here we are, fresh, recharged, and ready for new challenges, new learning, and new experiences!

Over 30,000 students will walk through the doors of our forty-plus schools in Okaloosa County today.  The teachers, staff, and administrators have eagerly prepared for their return, excited to continue building relationships with the families in our communities.  Strong relationships are the backbone of a good educational experience, and our accomplishments as a district reflect that commitment.

Students in our district continue to lead the state in college and career readiness as record numbers of students earn industry certifications through our CHOICE Institutes (recently declared a model for career education by the U.S. Department of Labor) at the same time that our district’s composite mean score on the ACT tops all other districts in the state of Florida.  Our students maintain some of the most consistent pass-rates on the nationally and internationally respected Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) exams, and enrollment in these courses continues to grow.

At the elementary and middle school levels, strong partnerships with businesses and the military make it possible for expanding technology in the classroom and exciting programs and events that give every child an opportunity to shine!  What may be most impressive about all of these achievements is the fact that our schools are reflecting academic growth while continuing to maintain top-ranked programs in sports, music, art, and a variety of extracurricular offerings.

Obviously, all of these crowning achievements are due in great part to our outstanding faculties, staff members, and administrators.  Over the past months, I have had the chance to visit every school and sit down with teachers to discuss their joys and concerns.  Many spend countless hours preparing for classes, grading papers, and communicating with parents – often just to say, “Good job!”  They want to meet the needs of all of their students, and they want to learn all they can to close the achievement gap for their students who struggle.

Teachers have been attending training all summer to learn about the Common Core State Standards, and faculties across the district will continue to apply the best strategies to their instruction.  As we add Common Core to the Sunshine State Standards, parents can expect to see more information about how complex text, text-based questions, and writing with evidence will translate into engaging classroom experiences for their children.  Also, teachers will be implementing the Common Core Math Practices – instructional strategies taught from kindergarten through graduation.  I am very proud of our STEM initiative for modeling the best science and math practices, and I look forward to seeing those practices being embedded into all levels of instruction.

There is no doubt that Okaloosa County schools are successful because of their high expectations and commitment to meeting the needs of all of our students.  Though we are a high achieving district, we will never rest on our laurels.  We want parents to feel included in this partnership, so be sure to visit the district website at OkaloosaSchools.com where you can find the new Common Core Web Page, the Parent Portal for Grades Online, and the information necessary to make payments for lunch and other school activities.

Looking forward to seeing everyone today!

Mary Beth Jackson
Superintendent of Schools