• Superintendent Addison Davis

  •  Our Hearts are with Texas!

    Posted by Addison Davis on 5/24/2022 7:55:00 PM

    It is likely that by now you have seen the devastating news out of Texas. As of this writing, at least 18 students and two staff members were killed in a shooting inside an elementary school. It is a nightmare scenario for any community; one that we prepare for and hope we never experience.

    Students and staff deserve a safe and secure place to learn and work. Hillsborough County Public Schools has invested heavily in securing our campuses to prevent tragedies like the one witnessed today.

    While we will continue to invest in safety throughout our campuses, we must also remember that we can help keep each other safe by remaining vigilant and taking advantage of the many resources the district provides. We have invested in placing security officers on every campus, ensuring access control, and installing the Centegix Alert System that allows school district employees to call for assistance immediately at any time when a threat is realized.

    I understand that the last week of school can be stressful and this horrendous act heightens our anxieties and could potentially cause angst. At this time, I am asking that all teachers and staff ban together to take care of each other and continue to serve and protect our students every single day. Our school and district based leaders are here to support our schools to ensure that safety remains our first priority. Collectively, we must stand together with the community of Uvalde, Texas where this unimaginable tragedy occurred. Our hearts are with the victims and their families as they navigate through this trying time. 

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  • Mental Wellness is a Top Priority in Hillsborough County Public Schools

    Posted by Addison Davis on 5/1/2022 8:30:00 AM

    As the Superintendent of Hillsborough County Public Schools, it has been difficult to watch the tremendous impact COVID-19 has had on all aspects of the educational experience for learners both here and across the nation. While we must work diligently to fight this virus, it is paramount that we simultaneously address our children’s mental health.

    It is scientifically proven that learners that live in a healthy mental space will be more engaged in the classroom and more successful academically. As our young men and women face unprecedented stressors in the wake of this pandemic, we will redouble our focus on supplying mental health services for all students and specifically our most vulnerable populations.

    How Can Schools Help Students with Mental Health Issues?

    The pandemic has exacerbated mental health issues for teenagers, with 30% of high schoolers reporting they were feeling depressed more often. We do not need studies to realize the impacts students are feeling, because educators are seeing it in the classroom every day.

    Whether you are a parent of a student or a child looking for mental health services, it is important to know we have Student Services teams at every one of our sites to help navigate emotional wellness for all learners. These highly qualified teams are comprised of:

    • School counselors
    • Nurses
    • Social workers
    • School psychologists

    I want all of our families to know that help is available at any time during school hours by asking to speak to a member of your school’s Student Services team. Our teams can also refer families to outside services for targeted psychological health supports to address more serious matters.

    Mental Health Flowchart

    Printable PDF

    Hillsborough County Public Schools’ New Mobile Response Unit

    While our Student Services teams stand ready to help students who may simply just want to talk about their feelings, we also recognize that some of our learners may be experiencing more severe mental health issues. This year for the first time ever, Hillsborough County Public Schools implemented a Mobile Response Unit in partnership with Gracepoint. This unit is comprised of a team of licensed clinicians who can be dispatched directly to a student in crisis during school hours for immediate evaluation in order to connect them with stabilization services.

    Before the Mobile Response Unit was initiated, law enforcement could be engaged to handle a student experiencing a mental health emergency such as suicidal thoughts or ideations. Moving forward, this unit will provide de-escalation strategies along with providing a comprehensive assessment to connect learners with ongoing services. I believe this multitiered system of supports more adequately serves our families and community especially as we learn more about how the pandemic has impacted our children.

    We must remove all barriers to mental health support access for our families, especially those in low-income communities. The Mobile Response unit is one of many ways Hillsborough County Public Schools stands ready to nurture and support the development of each child. This $1.4 million dollar investment will bolster our dedication to preparing each student for success, both in the classroom and in life.

    Mental Wellness Training for School Leaders

    Even prior to the pandemic, teen suicide has been rising at an alarming rate across the United States. According to the CDC, our nation has experienced a 60-70% increase for those ages 10 to 24 between the years 2007 and 2018. We as educators must be armed with tools to not only recognize the signs of suicidal thoughts, but to provide immediate support when needed.

    One of the supplemental trainings provided to school-based leaders within Hillsborough County Public Schools is through a local non-profit organization called “Hailey’s Voice of Hope.” During the last training in February, hundreds of school principals learned about additional tools to combat teen suicide.

    The information our leaders gained from this training can certainly save lives while preparing everyone from teachers to administrators for crisis situations. We thank Hailey’s Voice of Hope for funding this outstanding training for our leaders.

    Leaders in training

    Knowing the Signs: What to Look for with Your Own Child

    Parents and families are our first partners when it comes to cultivating a successful educational experience for our learners. While our educators spend most of the day with students, it is also critical that parents know what to look for to ensure a child is in a healthy mental state. Many of the warning signs of suicide can mirror the symptoms of depression. Here are some symptoms to look for:

    • Losing interest in activities
    • Feeling like a burden
    • Neglecting hygiene
    • Substance abuse
    • Increased anxiety
    • Risk-taking
    • Obsessing about death
    • Giving away possessions
    • Running away
    • Fatigue

    How is Hillsborough County Public Schools Using Increased Mental Health Funding?

    During the pandemic, state leaders noted increased need for mental health services within school districts in Florida. In turn, Hillsborough County Public Schools has received record state funding to enhance mental health services, a nearly $8 million appropriation.

    Our district has utilized these funds to proactively increase mental health services within our district. In addition to the Mobile Response Unit, Hillsborough County Public Schools also increased the number of therapists at more than 100 schools.

    While the number of students we have connected with for mental health services has grown substantially during the pandemic, we view this as a positive development as learners recognize help is available within their schools.

    Hillsborough County Public Schools is Focused on Mental Health Awareness

    Throughout the month of May, our district will celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month. While schools will celebrate this month in their own way, it is important to remind families our district is always here for support.

    I encourage you to visit our Mental Health Matters webpage for important resources dedicated to ensuring students are supported through any struggle they may be facing. Resources on this page include fighting bullying, preventing suicide, treating trauma, and other important information for families.

    Mental health matters in Hillsborough County Public Schools. Please know if you need help outside of school hours, you can always call 211 for help, and 911 in an emergency. We will continue to stand together as we fight for our children’s mental health and wellness.

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  • Hillsborough Schools Embarks on First-of-its-Kind Workforce Development Plan

    Posted by Addison Davis on 4/1/2022 7:00:00 AM

    I have had the great pleasure of interacting with business owners large and small over the last two years as we work collectively to prepare students for the careers of tomorrow. As one of the largest employers in Hillsborough County serving more than 220,000 students, we play a powerful role in creating students that stand ready to fill critical gaps in our community.

    Two areas of incredible need throughout our region are in both the medical and industries. As the Superintendent of Hillsborough County Public Schools, it is my job to implement educational programs with a sustained and robust commitment to workforce development. Our district will launch a new initiative with a laser focus on preparing students for high-demand careers in the medical field and construction directly after graduation.

    Greater Tampa Bay Area Needs-Medical, Construction, Distribution and Logistics

    Preparing Students for High-Paying Jobs in Tampa

    Hillsborough County Public Schools cannot simply add programs in isolation without a true commitment to ‘Build Tampa’s Tomorrow.’ That is why we are creating three new high schools dedicated to a specific area of workforce development.

    Hillsborough Medical Academy

    The new Hillsborough Medical Academy will serve students in 9th through 12th grades and is slated to open in Fall of 2023. This school will partner with major hospitals in the area including Tampa General BayCare, AdventHealth, and Moffitt Cancer Center to discuss course programs that best benefit their future workforce.

    Students will gain various skills needed to succeed in healthcare jobs while working toward industry certifications in areas including:

    • Nursing Assistant
    • EKG Technician
    • Home Health Aide
    • Personal Trainer
    • Emergency Medical Responder

    Medical photo

    This school will be housed in our current D.W. Waters building which will be revamped to meet the specific needs of the new workforce development initiative.

    Hillsborough Construction Academy

    The cutting-edge Hillsborough Construction Academy will serve students in 9th through 12th grades and open in Fall of 2023. Over the next decade, the Department of Labor Statistics expects tremendous growth in the building and construction industry. Our district will work with local leaders in the industry to determine the most in-demand careers for our area. The Hillsborough Construction Academy will offer programs of study or industry certifications in areas including:

    • Building Construction
    • A/C, Refrigeration, Heating Technology
    • Electric Vehicles
    • Augmented Reality/Visualization
    • Water Infrastructure/Treatment
    • Framing/Drywall

    This state-of-the-art building will be located in our current Bowers/Whitley building but will be repurposed for this new endeavor.

    Construction

    Hillsborough Distribution and Logistics Academy

    Following the opening of the medical and construction focused schools, the Hillsborough Distribution and Logistics Academy will be housed in a brand new, modern facility in Plant City located near a number of manufacturing and distribution centers.

    These educational programs will be developed with guidance from local businesses along the I-4 corridor including Dart, Container Corp. of Florida, Ace Hardware, Star Distributions, Amazon, and City Furniture among others.

    The distribution sector is experiencing a shortfall in workers with these types of skills. This academy will focus on job training in this industry, offering program of study and certifications including:

    • Distribution
    • Manufacturing
    • Solar power
    • Logistics
    • Robotics

    Watch the video below, our latest episode of In Depth with Davis, which takes a deep dive into our workforce development programs within Hillsborough County Public Schools.

    Educational Programs to Support Workforce Development

    Hillsborough County Public Schools provides a wide range of workforce development opportunities within a robust curriculum designed to prepare students for careers after graduation. Students can choose from 17 career clusters that best fit their educational interests with focuses ranging from Agriculture to Finance or Law. These new career academies are part of a wider focus across the district.

    Our district will continually update students, parents, families, and staff with updates about the new career academies from construction to completion. In addition, we will provide information on how to apply and enroll in the new schools for the 2023-2024 school year.

    If your student is interested in learning more about what special programs their zoned school offers, or if you would like to learn more about our Magnet, Choice, or Attractor programs, visit www.HillsboroughSchools.org/Choice to learn more about how your child can attend a school with a curriculum that excites them while preparing them for the career of a lifetime.

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  • Hillsborough Schools Unites Against Human Trafficking

    Posted by Superintendent Addison Davis on 3/28/2022 7:00:00 AM

    As Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent, it is my top priority to ensure students have a safe and healthy learning environment. When we hear the words human trafficking, we may think it only occurs on television, or in places far away from home. This could not be further from the truth.

    In fact, human trafficking tragically plagues communities across our country, including right here in Hillsborough County. In fact, Florida is one of the top three states with the most prevalence of human trafficking. There have been more than a dozen human trafficking arrests right here in our area over the past few months.

    What are the Warning Signs of Human Trafficking?

    As educators, it is our job to spot the possibility of abuse within our schools. Our teachers and staff undergo training to detect signs of abuse, which include:

    • Bruises, injuries, or other physical issues
    • Student seems afraid to go home
    • Student shies away from physical contact or becomes aggressive
    • Child has trouble walking or sitting
    • Child has torn, stained, or bloody clothing
    • Seem withdrawn or depressed
    • Have unusual knowledge about sex

    Spotting the signs of human trafficking can often save other students. Often, traffickers force their victims to recruit new victims within their social circules, which could occur within a school.

    How to Combat Human Trafficking

    Our district champions various topics in our community to ensure students and families are provided with necessary resources. School Board Member Lynn Gray cultivated a district human trafficking task force which includes community members, law enforcement, principals, teachers, and district staff.

    Monday, March 28, we will be holding a panel to discuss how our district and our region is working together to fight human trafficking. This is one of the many ways we plan to engage the community to share this important information to save lives. It is important for us all to understand anyone can be susceptible to human trafficking. Please watch the video below to learn more about this free event and the taskforce.

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  • Education Referendum Update

    Posted by Superintendent Addison Davis on 3/8/2022 11:00:00 AM

    The Education Referendum has been an integral part of our district’s quest to create the ideal learning environment for students in Hillsborough County Public Schools. When our community voted for this measure, we promised to utilize referendum funds exclusively to maintain facilities, thus ensuring children thrive in the right learning conditions which contribute to positive educational outcomes.

    Superintendent Davis, Lynn Gray, and construction workers

    Hillsborough County Public Schools expects to complete more than 1,700 projects over the next decade, including more than 200 air conditioning units and 60 aging roofs. We anticipate investing $23 million in upgrading safety and security systems while providing state-of-the-art equipment and facilities. To provide a competitive and robust educational experience, we budgeted $25 million from our existing referendum to new classroom technology — preparing students for college and tomorrow's workforce. This could not have occurred without steadfast support from our entire community.

    Communicating Referendum Achievements

    Our district has worked diligently to communicate these efforts in the spirit of transparency as our stakeholders have entrusted us with a tremendous responsibility to remain fiscally responsible. I am deeply appreciative of the independent Citizen Oversight Committee which has been committed to reviewing all spending as we plan and complete projects. The committee includes members with a wide range of political, geographic, ethnic, and professional backgrounds who selflessly give their time to help our youth.

    Despite a global pandemic, these crucial projects have been consistently prioritized and completed during the past two years. I want to thank the community for approving the referendum which will have a lasting impact on our learners for years to come.

    Referendum Projects in Progress and Completed

    How are Referendum Dollars Used?

    Referendum dollars are used exclusively toward capital projects. These funds cannot be utilized for salary increases for our dedicated teachers and other staff members or to bolster classroom resources. Unfortunately, education funding has remained largely stagnant over the last decade in the state of Florida. We must collectively identify alternative revenue streams to support this district’s dedication toward improving working conditions for teachers and staff and providing innovative academic experiences for all learners.

    Summer ProjectsEnsuring proper education funding for our schools does not only impact students, teachers, and parents, it has wide-ranging effects on the fabric of our community. The work has only begun, and we remain dedicated to finding sustainable funding sources to ensure our students succeed. Together, we will Accelerate Hillsborough.

    For a complete update on summer referendum projects and how these dollars will be utilized, view more information.

    -Superintendent Addison Davis

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  • Kindergarten Readiness Crucial for Student Performance

    Posted by Superintendent Addison Davis on 2/18/2022 8:00:00 AM

    Kindergarten student with Superintendent Addison DavisWhen a learner enters kindergarten, it can be an incredibly exciting time filled with new opportunities and friendships. The experience can also set the stage for a successful educational career.

    However, for students who have yet to be exposed to a traditional classroom environment, kindergarten can be a difficult transition with barriers that may stand in the way of a successful academic experience. We must work together as a community to better prepare our youngest learners for this important milestone that can have long-lasting impacts on their lives.

    This is why early childhood education continues to be a top priority for Hillsborough County Public Schools as we strive to provide a simple process for kindergarten registration for all students.

    Ready for Kindergarten - Click for more information

    Why is Kindergarten so Important?

    A learner’s initial entry into the classroom is the true beginning of their entire educational career. In fact, a student who enters kindergarten on time and prepared for academic success is more likely to master literacy skills by age 11, and even more likely to graduate high school. Unfortunately, only 56% of students entering the classroom for the first time in the state of Florida are kindergarten ready.

    Being prepared for kindergarten is more than mastering literacy skills. This is a crucial time for our learners to build their social-emotional and motor skills, along with performing basic tasks in a classroom environment. As we nurture a student’s growth at this early age, we are providing a strong foundation and sparking a love for learning.

    Kindergarten Registration for Hillsborough County Schools

    It is for this reason Hillsborough County Public Schools will initiate a Countdown to Kindergarten initiative in 2022 to communicate crucial information to families with young learners who will be joining our Hillsborough family next fall. This proactive approach will include several events throughout the district to acclimate families to their new schools, procedures, and expectations. The third week of February, schools across the district will be holding Ready for Kindergarten events to help families with the registration process and introduce students to their school’s leadership.

    How to Register for Kindergarten

    If your child is set to turn 5 years old on or before September 1, your student is kindergarten age. If your child is turning 6 on or after February 1 of the upcoming school year, you have the option to wait until the following academic year. Here are the steps you can take to make sure your student is ready for the classroom.

    • Find your assigned school: Simply enter your address to locate the elementary school where your child is set to attend in the fall. If you are looking for a Magnet or Choice school outside of your student’s attendance boundary, you can learn more here about our dozens of options that fit your learner’s needs.
    • Prepare your documents: Gather the documents you will need for kindergarten registration, which include a birth certificate, social security card, Florida Physical HRS form, Florida Immunization Record, and two forms of verification of address.
    • Contact your school: Whether you plan to attend your school’s event in February or make a stop at the school site when it is more convenient, contact the school first to see if it has specific registration hours before bringing your registration materials to the site.

    Preparing Your Student for K 12 Education

    The Countdown to Kindergarten can begin now in every household. If you have a learner who will be joining us for kindergarten in Fall of 2022, the time to build their cognitive skills and healthy habits is now. Here are simple ways to get ready for the future school year:

    • Read to your child: Read your child’s favorite story before bed and encourage them to identify letters and numbers to build their cognitive skills. This will develop their love for literacy while sparking the curiosity that will bolster success in the classroom.
    • Socialize: Provide multiple opportunities to collaborate with other children your child’s age. Set play dates to grow emotional and social skills that will be pivotal to your student’s everyday life.
    • Create a routine: You can begin a healthy routine now so come Fall, your learner will already be used to healthy sleeping and eating habits. Start a bedtime routine and make sure your student has a healthy breakfast. These routines will have untold benefits once they enter the classroom.

    The Importance of Early Childhood Education

    Kindergarten student workingWe must introduce our children early to the expectations they will encounter once they enter the classroom. The true importance of early childhood education goes beyond learning basic skills. In fact, ninety percent of your child’s brain is developed by age 5. This means high-quality education and nurturing social-emotional learning experiences are crucial to their development and future.

    I encourage all families to utilize this webpage for important kindergarten resources that will aid in finding your assigned school and learning more about our innovative Choice and Magnet options. Together, we can work to break down barriers that create limitations for our newest learners, strengthening the fabric of our district and entire community.

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