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Polk Education Partnership

PEP is a volunteer driven non-profit organization supporting Winter Haven’s public schools, principals, teachers, staff, students, and parents.

Programs and initiatives range from providing opportunities to students and families with limited resources to encouraging innovative curriculum and connections to challenge Winter Haven’s brightest. PEP seeks to facilitate the innovation and connections necessary to make Winter Haven’s public school system one that effectively serves all students and is viewed as a benchmark for public school systems.

Our Vision

All Winter Haven students will have access to a quality public education system that challenges, inspires, and nurtures learning to cultivate a strong talent pipeline and informed citizenry.

Our History

Out of concern for the quality of Winter Haven’s public schools, The Greater Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce (“The Chamber”) formed the Educational Outcomes Steering Committee (“The Committee”) in early 2011. These members selected by the Chamber to serve on the Committee were Eileen Holden, the President of Polk State College; Dr. Samuel Bennett, the Dean of the College of Education at Southeastern University; the Honorable Jeff Potter, the Mayor of Winter Haven; Dr. Sherrie Nickell, the Superintendent of the Polk County School District; Seretha Tinsley, an owner of PenGeo, Inc. and related business entities; and Douglas A Lockwood, III, an attorney with Peterson & Myers, P.A. Also involved in the Committee’s efforts to assess the current situation in the schools were Dr. Sharon Miller, Nat West, Suzanne Threadgill, Dr. John Stewart, Thomas Costello, Honorable Edward Threadgill, Charles McPherson, Tom Oldt, Bob Gernert, the Executive Director of the Chamber, and Cindy Price, President of the Chamber, not to mention many others who contributed to the initiative. The Committee’s task was to survey Winter Haven’s public schools and recommend strategies to improve the schools through the involvement of every sector of the community. Months of interviews, research, presentations, meetings, and discussions with enumerable educators, businessmen and women, students, and concerned citizens ensued. 

On an important note, although we have reason for concern over the quality of our schools, the many successes of our schools are impressive and should motivate us all to engage in the work of helping our children achieve their best. The passion of many of the teachers and administrators interviewed by members of the Committee was evident, sincere, and compelling. Good teachers teach because they love teaching; this despite the difficult challenges facing their profession. These educators deserve respect, recognition, and support.