Education

As the population of the region continues to expand, so do the occupations that support this growth.

The following Support Industries continue to produce a wealth of career opportunities in Northeast Florida: Construction, Real Estate, Public Safety, Education, Agribusiness, and Hospitality & Leisure.

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Education Report

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Educational Institutions in the Region

“Students can be strong in mind but also in character to create a better community.”

Charles Darwin Magdaluyo2022 VyStar Duval County Teacher of the Year

“I want to push [students] to become leaders themselves so when they’re adults, they're already trained leaders.”

Kenneth FordMath Interventionist, Rufus E. Payne Elementary School

"Teaching is one of the most rewarding things you can do.”

Mandy StelzClinical Coordinator/Radiologic Technology Instructor, Keiser University

“Kids see your passion and interest and they’ll appreciate it.”

Carley DyalAgricultural Teacher, Keystone Heights High School

Carley Dyal

Agriculture Teacher, Keystone Heights High School

Sometimes, one's career pathway circles back to the beginning. Such is the case with Carley Dyal, an agricultural teacher at Keystone Heights High School (KHHS) in Clay County.

Carley attended Keystone Heights as a student and was involved in Keystone's Agriscience pathway from middle school through high school. Carley's family has a strong agricultural background, as her paternal grandfather farmed. Carley showed steer and raised cows. She participated in 4-H in Elementary School and FFA in High School.

Carley was dual-enrolled, earning an Associate degree from Santa Fe College while attending KHHS. She earned a B.S. in Agriculture Education the University of Florida. It wasn't Carley's plan to return to Clay County after her college graduation.

Carley had interned at Santa Fe High School, which had a large lab in conjunction with a veterinary science program. She thought she would stay around Union and Alachua Counties. However, a position opened up in Clay County. Combine that opportunity with a bit of homesickness, and Carley realized she was "meant to go home."

Currently, Carley teaches 3 Middle School and 2 High School agriculture classes. She taught at Lake Asbury Junior High School for a year and has been at KHHS for the past two years. Her middle school courses focus on introductory information on the basics of the agriculture industry, such as plants and animals. Her high school courses delve more deeply into animal agriscience. Unlike Carley, only a handful of her students work or live on a farm or are involved in 4-H. However, her passion and enthusiasm resonates in the classroom. She knew from an early age that her career pathway involved sharing her skills and knowledge in the classroom.
Carley is motivated to provide students experiences they'll remember. She recalls student amazement at planting a seed, watching it grow, and harvesting it. She said students enjoy the experience of raising a baby calf to become a full grown 1,200 pound animal by April—an animal they have fed, brushed and provided care. She also cited field trips as being an experience students enjoy, particularly the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Georgia each October. This hands-on event feature vendors such as John Deere. Carley charters a bus for 50 students. This perennial favorite of some students involves horse demonstrations, a livestock pavilion and field demonstrations.

Another fun aspect of Carley's pursuit of the educational pathways is her ability to reach students who have an interest in both agriculture and technology. Self-driving tractors have GPS technology embedded in the equipment to maximize efficiency in planting and harvesting, as well as maximize crop yield. Weather analysis, automated irrigations, and reduced water usage are all end-products of increased technology used in today's agriculture. Carley cited one Keystone graduate who was keenly interested in drones, so he pursued a Drone Technology Program at the University of North Florida. He intends to use this skill to fly over farms, providing remote surveillance of properties and helping to identify potential issues with crops or livestock without the cost of manual inspections.

One of Carley's favorite aspects of teaching is seeing the lasting effects on kids. One parent approached her after a draining first year of teaching and indicated, "You've brought him out of his shell. He's actually talking about his career plans now." Much like her students tracking the growth of their plants or animals, Carley enjoys monitoring the continued growth of her students after they've left Keystone High School. Carley encourages anyone considering education as a career path that they'll have such a tremendous impact on students. She acknowledges the significant demand for teachers. "It's a hard job. Some days are rough, especially in your first year. It's worth it. Kids see your passion and interest, and they'll appreciate it. Surround yourself with a team of other teachers you can count on and bounce ideas off of, even if they're not in your content area."

Carley has made an impact on senior teachers and colleagues as well. Former Agriculture teacher and current Career & Technical Education Supervisor for Clay County Schools, Kelly Mosley, says, "Carley is a wonderful example. She is a natural teacher and she is a tremendous example of a ‘beginning' teacher. It always surprises me she has only been teaching for 3 years because she has skills and abilities far beyond her years!"

Sometimes in life, the same soil that helps to grow you is the soil you also cultivate for others.

Tonya Whitehurst

Area Director of Human Resources, Putnam County Schools

Sometimes, it can be difficult to see your career pathway. Should you pursue additional schooling? Will you find a job that provides gratification as well as increased pay? How will you know you’re a good culture fit within the organization?

These questions and more have been answered by the Putnam County School District via the Paras to Pros Program (Paraprofessionals to Professionals). Tonya Whitehurst, Area Director of Human Resources for the District says this program is a “win-win-win.” The Paras to Pros program is an exclusive offer for those working as paraprofessionals in the Putnam County School District. It’s an internal program established to grow their own talent.

However, it takes a strong partnership to sustain the Paras to Pros program. Initially, Saint Leo University approached Putnam Schools to create a program leveraging their Elementary Education, Bachelor of Arts, K-6 degree program. While enrolled in their degree program, they’ll learn Classroom Management, Educational Technology, Teaching Diverse Populations, Reading Foundations in the Elementary Classroom, and courses in teaching Elementary Math, Science, Social Studies, Language Arts. Saint Leo received approval from the State of Florida to utilize the in-class experience already gleaned by the paraprofessionals to apply to their practicum and internship hour requirements. No leave of absence is required to complete the final internship required. Paraprofessionals that are targeted for this program have an associate degree or 60 college credit hours, as well as one year of service in the district. These individuals must be interested in pursuing a Bachelor Degree in Education and sign an Intent to Enroll Agreement.

Tonya indicated that the District’s goal was to achieve a ten student class for an initial paraprofessional cohort. Last spring, they achieved that goal with a cohort of 10. Nine of ten are still enrolled in the program. Instructors and administrators within the District having Masters in Education Leadership and Reading degrees also assist with providing instruction. Students take two face-to-face classes and two online classes per semester. There are many benefits of participating in this program, such as access to tuition assistance. Paraprofessional students accepted into the program receive reduced tuition from Saint Leo. Many students qualify for student aid and grants such as the Florida Effective Access to Student Education (EASE) grant, which flattens the cost of tuition to $320 per credit hour at a rate locked in for two years. Students can also reduce their tuition via a TEACH grant by committing to teach in a low socioeconomic school.

Putnam County Schools purchase textbooks that students can check out and use—a Paras to Pros Library. Saint Leo agreed to keep the same textbook for two to three cohorts, so it allows the District to alleviate costs without incurring a great deal of costs themselves.

At the end of the 2020-2021 school year, nine paraprofessionals will have earned a BA in Elementary Education from Saint Leo. Students finishing the program will be considered first for hire. The District will help students with a subject area exam if they are interested in transitioning to middle grades. Graduates agree to work for the District for a minimum of one year.

Tonya sees a distinct advantage in growing their own talent pipeline. Throughout the Para’s degree program which involves student teaching experiences, District teachers can observe strengths, weaknesses, and improvements, all which will determine the best placement within the District.

Tonya anticipates that the Paras to Pros Program will only keep on building. “It’s motivating because paraprofessionals can clearly see the end result.” Typically, individuals can be reluctant to pay for and pursue training that may not yield a promotion. The Paras to Pros Program removes that apprehension. Tonya anticipates a waiting list and increased interest after the first cohort graduates. “The District has a long-term recruiting and retention strategy as well as succession planning.” Clearly, this career pathway checks a lot of boxes for Putnam County Schools.

Charles Darwin Magdaluyo

2022 VyStar Duval County Teacher of the Year

On January 22, 2022, Charles Darwin Magdaluyo – Mr. M to his students – was named the 2022 VyStar Duval County Teacher of the Year at the 31st Annual EDDY Awards. This celebration is a time-honored tradition lead by the Jacksonville Public Education Fund to elevate Jacksonville’s leading teachers.

The Rotary International sponsored Magdaluyo, who was one of Duval County Public School's 180 Teachers of the Year. After being selected as one of fifteen semi-finalists and narrowed to five finalists, Magdaluyo was identified as being the district’s top example of an educational professional and a true difference-maker.

Magdaluyo is in his fourth year of teaching Anatomy & Physiology at Ribault High School, where he has also taught Biology. After studying at the Philippine Normal University, renowned for its educational degree programs, Mr. M came to Jacksonville and began teaching one week later. However, his entrance into education was not as straightforward.

As the oldest sibling, Magdaluyo’s parents often asked that he look after his siblings. His default “babysitting” mode included playing teacher. Although he knew in his heart he wanted to teach science, he initially pursued post-secondary studies in graphics technology based on his parent’s encouragement and his exam scores. After one year of study, Magdaluyo admitted to his parents that he would not be happy unless he pursued teaching as his chosen career pathway—and true vocation.

Once Magdaluyo settled on this decision, his enthusiasm and commitment has not waivered. The quality of his instructional methods and his approach to student centered learning make his classroom one in which students easily can feel comfortable and engaged. He says, “A teacher nurtures through their content, but also by teaching character and 21st century skills. Show students your energy and you’ll see it in return.”

Often, students think that their teachers chose their profession because they were themselves outstanding students. However, Magdaluyo shares that he was not the best student as a child, but that he witnessed his teachers working diligently on his behalf. He understands the stress of not always understanding the classroom material. As a result, he insists on creating a physical classroom environment of belonging. A few of his strategies involve creative bulletin boards, classroom seating arranged into teams, and interaction while students problem-solve in real-time.

The start of his teaching career was not picture perfect. Magdaluyo said he reflected after each day to determine how he could more effectively interact with each student. His daily analysis combined with the mentorship provided by his administrators and fellow teachers improved his classroom management skills and teaching style. He says, “You don’t learn from your experiences. You learn from reflecting on your experiences.”

Magdaluyo enjoys teaching subject matter that is difficult but also connects to social issues, such as mental health. He teaches students to arm themselves with facts so they can think critically and be socially aware rather than rely on misinformation.

Magdaluyo’s teaching philosophy requires that he considers the whole student and their development both in and outside of his classroom. “Students can be strong in mind but also in character to create a better community,” he says. As such, he incorporates what he calls the “Three Gs” into his classroom: goal setting, growth mindset, and grit. He encourages his students to set goals, believe in themselves, stay productive and persist through obstacles.

“This is not just a job. It is a vocation. You burn out if you do something you don’t like,” says Magdaluyo. As such, his influence reaches beyond his classroom. He helps other international teachers feel comfortable in their new surroundings through learning communities.

Truly, succeeding in the educational career pathway requires the Three Gs from those who wish to pursue it. Perhaps, like Mr. M., teaching is for you.