Orlando’s 50 Most Powerful People of 2021: Education

Meet the leaders in Education!

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1 Barbara Jenkins

Superintendent, Orange County Public Schools

The wisest advice you ever received? Keep God first in all that you do, and you will find success. What don’t most people know about you? I am a humble loser but a sore winner. I tend to be less than gracious when I win a bet. Your message to students? Brain research tells us students who work hard can actually grow smarter. I want children to pursue their dreams with intense determination and hard work. I also encourage them to appreciate the adults who are invested in their success. Your encouragement for educators? I want to thank all of our educators and support staff for helping to lead 209,000 students to success. Last year was like no other in recent history, and this year promises to be equally challenging. We remain committed to providing the resources and safe environment to cultivate success for our students and employees. How do you stay grounded? Prayer and Bible devotions, along with the love and support of my incredible family. —CH


2 Alexander Cartwright

President, University of Central Florida

Your message to disadvantaged kids? Keep reaching for the stars. Education is the greatest opportunity to transform your life and future generations. Your most important life lesson? Take advantage of opportunities that are presented. Many people are committed to helping others. Seek them out, and listen to them. Your favorite author? Simon Sinek and his simple concept of “start with why” that transforms our framing of issues. What do you love most about Orlando? Orlando has so much to offer because of its vibrant, diverse and rapidly growing population and its entrepreneurial spirit and sense of optimism that transcend to UCF. The thing of which you’re most proud? My wonderful family. My wife and two incredibly talented children are my inspiration and bring so much joy to my life. No. 1 on your bucket list? To write a book. I would love to document all the incredible experiences we have had in higher education and formally acknowledge the many people who have impacted my life. —CH


3 Teresa Jacobs

Chair, Orange County School Board

What was your greatest achievement over the past year? In the role of Chair, there is leadership involved, but it’s so much about creating a unified team that works well together; we have an incredible board. Probably our greatest achievement has been keeping our students enrolled and engaged, creating as normal of an environment as we could under the circumstances. And having the tools and resources to support them academically and emotionally. What are you looking forward to improving for students in the current school year? Our No.1 priority is closing the achievement gap. You’ve heard of the “COVID slide.” We have seen our children not make the progress. Not that they know less than they knew before, but they didn’t make the academic gains they would normally have made. So our focus is on providing the resources, environment and support to accelerate their learning. What is a cause that is important to you? Mental health is my No. 1 cause. My own personal experience with my brother who battled with bipolar disorder has made it personal and real for me. —PL


4 Dr. Grant Cornwell

President, Rollins College

Your life philosophy? Kindness, compassion, creativity, critical thinking. Educator who most inspired you? I have long been influenced by the work of American philosopher and educator John Dewey, who makes a compelling case that a healthy democracy requires an educated citizenry—one with sufficient independence of mind to see through demagoguery, and sufficient critical intelligence to be able to discern fact from distortion. What most fulfills you professionally? Seeing the faculty, staff and students of Rollins working toward a common purpose. How do you wind down? I find sailing to be deeply restorative. Tuning a boat to the dynamic rhythms of the wind and the water calls for constant concentration and cleans out the myriad distractions and annoyances that can cloud clear thinking. Favorite book? Plato’s Republic is my favorite book to teach because it poses so many fundamental philosophical questions and makes a compelling case for what justice means for an individual and a society. Greatest compliment you could get? That I have brought together smart, creative and committed people to do good and important work. —CH


5 Dr. Georgia Lorenz

President Seminole State College

What is the best thing you’ve learned in your current position? The power of partnerships. It’s incredible what we can achieve together. What cause is important to you? The transition of former foster youth to a successful, self-sustaining adulthood. I’ve served on the boards of organizations whose programs provide stable housing, personal counseling, and education and employment assistance. Their goal is to eliminate disparities between those who were in the foster care system and those who weren’t. What is something surprising about you that most people don’t know? I was a synchronized swimmer from age seven all the way through college. It was a very important part of my life, and it shaped me as a person and a leader. How would your 10-year-old self react to what you do now? Although my 10-year-old self had little concept of what it means to be a college president, the leadership lessons I learned [as my swim club’s 10-and-under team captain] contributed to my pathway here. —LB


6 Garry Jones

President, Full Sail University

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be? Upon the recent passing of my friend David Dubow, he bequeathed his 1960’s Hammond B3 organ to me. Motown Records formerly owned it, which was used on ‘60s-‘80s recordings of R&B, funk and soul releases. In Dave’s honor, I’m learning to play this vintage heirloom. What is a cause that is important to you? I’m passionate about all living creatures, the land and the water. I proudly serve as Chair for The Nature Conservancy [Florida chapter]. What is your favorite way to spend a day off? I love being on, in and around water, whether that’s swimming in the pool with family and friends, boating on the Winter Park Chain of Lakes, or enjoying a day at the beach. What is something surprising about you that most people don’t know? I enjoy old, classic American cars, which began when my mother gifted me my late father’s 1983 Ford Ranger pickup truck. I went through a two-year restoration process to make it showroom-new again. —LB

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