You started your 43-year public education career as a band director, then went on to serve as an assistant principal, principal and deputy superintendent before being elected superintendent in 2016. Of all the positions you have held in public education, which has been the most rewarding and why?
Each position that I have assumed in my career has provided unique and rewarding experiences and memories. Whether working directly with students, colleagues, parents or the community, these various positions enabled me to build a repertoire of skills and knowledge that prepared me for the next position and it’s expanded responsibilities. The sense of accomplishment and success is always rewarding and encouraging on any level of the educational spectrum.
You were recently featured in the podcast On the Clock with Todd Dallas Lamb, and during the interview you said you and your wife planned to only teach in Hardee County for one year and then move to Tampa, yet 41 years later you are still working for the school district. What changed your mind?
Simply . . . the people. Both my wife and I grew up in large cities and never planned on living in a small community. However, after meeting and working with our students, parents and the community, we quickly realized that this was where we belonged. The sense of family, neighbors helping neighbors and the outstanding support from parents, the community and the school district administration were all reasons to plant our roots, develop our careers and raise a family. Our two daughters are products of the Hardee County School District and we’re proud that their first days in kindergarten have led them both to earn their doctorate degrees and attain outstanding careers.
During the podcast, you mentioned that you did not set out with a goal of becoming superintendent. What did lead you to pursue the superintendency?
After 9 years as an elementary school principal, the current superintendent called to advise me that his current deputy superintendent was retiring and selected me to become his replacement for three years until the superintendent retired. Fortunately, I was voted in as superintendent in 2016. I would say it was a “dream come true” however, I hadn’t ever dreamt this scenario would be possible let alone become a reality. Realizing that there is a rather small number of former music teachers that have become superintendents I am both honored and blessed to have been given this distinct and rare opportunity to serve our school district and community. Halfway into my second term, I remain excited and motivated each and every day to work with students and colleagues to provide opportunities for growth and excellence.
You attended the University of Miami and the University of South Florida on a music scholarship where you majored in music education, leading to your first job as a band director. What did you enjoy most about being a band director?
The opportunity to teach students to develop skills, concepts and to grow both musically and intellectually was the impetus for being part of our band program. Listening and observing performances on the concert stage and on the competitive marching band field by the students is such a rewarding moment when you realize the hard work and dedication was worth the effort. Building a program in a small community taught my students and myself that anything is possible . . . by anyone . . . at any time.
What is your proudest accomplishment during your tenure as Hardee County Schools Superintendent?
The improvement in student achievement would be the hallmark measurement of a school district’s success. Since assuming office our school district grade has improved from a “C” to a “B” for the first time, we have not had a school on DA status since 2016 and our graduation rate has improved from 59.7% in 2014-15 to and all-time high of 91.4% in 2019-20. One reason for this accomplishment is due to our concerted efforts in teacher recruitment and retention. Over the past five years we have begun the school year with no teaching vacancies and with 96.8% of the faculty possessing proper certification.
During your public school career, is there an individual(s) that has served as a mentor to you and/or you admire for their positive impact on you?
Joann McCray, Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent, is a person that I have admired and have had the pleasure to work with since I came to the school district 41 years ago. I am the 5th superintendent that she has worked with in the district and she has been employed by the district for 53 years. Joann is the face and the voice of our school district and is a class act. Many problems and concerns that come to the district office rarely come to my attention as they are frequently dealt with by Joann either by phone, email or in a face-to-face meeting. She is literally known by the entire school district, the general community and many school districts across the state. The utmost professional in appearance, demeanor, and infectious and enthusiastic attitude, Joann is a catalyst for much of the success of our school district.
If you had to choose an animal that your feel is most representative of you, what animal would that be and why?
Dolphins: are known to teach, learn, cooperate and grieve. Dolphins are highly social animals and often display cultural characteristics. In Greek mythology, Dolphins were seen invariably as “helpers of humankind.”
Outside of being a superintendent, what is something that your colleagues may not know about you that you would like to share.
As music continues to be a passion of mine, my spare time is spent performing, consulting with bands and judging music competitions and events. I spend many weekends in the fall representing the Florida Marching Band Coalition and the Central States Judges Association adjudicating marching band contests across the country. I perform with area church orchestras particularly during the Christmas and Easter seasons. I have also had the privilege to perform with countless celebrities including Jimmy Buffet, Jack Jones, jazz artist Phyllis Hyman, Jerry Vale, Steve Lawrence, Eydie Gorme and numerous performances at the Golden Apple Dinner Theatre in Sarasota.
Any additional comments & thoughts you would like to share?
As I close the chapter on year 43 of my career in education, I am grateful and blessed to have had such a rewarding career where I have had an opportunity to promote change and excellence along with so many in our school district and community. Retirement is not a part of my vocabulary and I plan to keep working and improving both personally and professionally as long as I’m able to continue to make a positive difference. I continue to look forward to the next chapter and where it will take me.
“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”
– John Lennon
Book you are currently or recently finished reading:
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln – Doris Kearns Goodwin
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics – Daniel James Brown
Above: Supt. Shayman offers a "lunch with the superintendent" as part of the Hardee Education Foundation annual auction.
Left: Supt. Shayman at a 5k run with a former student of his when he was band director of the junior and senior high school programs. She is now a deputy sheriff with the Hardee County Sheriff's Department.
Side note: Supt. Shayman not only completed the race, he received a medal for placing first in his age group!
Supt. Shayman with district staff at a teacher recruitment event.
High school football has been a tradition in Hardee County since 1921, when they played their first game against neighboring DeSoto County.
For Supt. Shayman, a favorite part of being a superintendent is honoring the significant accomplishments of students and staff.
A Message from FADSS CEO
Superintendents Exemplify Servant Leaders
It was wonderful to see so many superintendents and district administrators at the FADSS 2022 Spring Leadership Conference two weeks ago. I heard very positive feedback about the conference, and truly hope that it provided you with the professional development that you are seeking given the increased challenges associated with running a public school district.
I applaud your commitment to public education and your willingness to serve the students, teachers, administrators, school-based staff and ultimately your community.
I specifically chose the word “serve,” because the role of a superintendent truly is that of a servant leader. When former Highlands County Schools Superintendent Wally Cox served as FADSS President in 2010-2011, he integrated the mindset of “Servant Leader” within the culture of our association.
Servant leadership is defined as a leadership philosophy in which the goal of the leader is to serve. Servant leaders put the needs, growth, and wellbeing of followers first. In other words, these types of leaders adopt a serve-first mindset. An effective public school superintendent does just that, each and every day.
While there may be differences of opinion, I firmly believe that the strength of our association is, and has always been, grounded in the commonality of this valued and meaningful profession.
We need to continue to build upon the conversations, connections, and camaraderie that was reignited during the FADSS 2022 Spring Conference.
Florida superintendents are and have always been stronger together, and I thank each of you for your commitment to public education, your colleagues, and FADSS.
Lafayette Superintendent Robbie Edwards
by FADSS Director of Training Katrina Figgett
At the FADSS 2022 Spring Conference two weeks ago, FADSS CEO Senator Bill Montford and former FADSS Director of Training Diann Morrell had the pleasure of recognizing Lafayette County Schools Superintendent Robby Edwards for completing the CEOLDP.
As was mentioned during the presentation, part of Robby’s Leadership Challenge was an expansion of Career and Technical Education (CTE). While CTE had long been available to LCS students prior to Robby taking the helm as Superintendent, it was definitely not a district focus, with only business and agriculture CTE programs being offered and those programs earning only between 14 and 22 industry certifications annually.
Robby worked with his high school principal, industry business leaders, area colleges and parents to identify and put in place additional CTE opportunities for students that would lead to high wage positions. The first program to be identified was welding due to the many jobs available in the local area for certified welders. Investigating how best to offer a welding program involved visits to other high schools and local colleges to initiate relationships, and to research costs for enrollment as compared to costs of starting a program at Lafayette high school.
In fact, Robby enrolled in a welding program at a local college to better understand exactly what students would be learning and what would be expected of them as they worked their way through the program. His hands-on experience along with all the information gathered led to the conclusion that utilizing a well-established welding program was the best option for his district. A partnership was established with what was then known as Taylor Technical Institute (TTI), now Big Bend Technical College (BBTC), to provide Lafayette High School students the opportunity to enroll in a certified welding program. The addition of this and other CTE programs has increased the number of earned industry certifications in Lafayette County Schools to 279 in 2021.
The focus on increasing CTE opportunities for students has impacted other components within the school district with improved ELA, mathematics, and science scores and a graduation rate well above the state average. When Robby took over as superintendent Lafayette was the 37th ranked school district in Florida and is now ranked number 1!
We hope you can join us at the Joint Conference in Tampa, June 8-10 to hear more about Robby’s Leadership Challenge and the positive changes that have taken place in Lafayette schools and the local community.
Save the Date
The Club for the Future "Launch to Learning" event at Kennedy Space Center designed exclusively for Florida District School Superintendent is set for:
Thursday, June 16th (6 p.m. ET) -
Friday, June 17th (8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. ET)
Details will be forthcoming next week. Stay tuned!
Explore the Myriad Educational Programs Offered by the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation
The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation (GHOF) gave a brief presentation on their educational programs at the FADSS 2022 Spring Conference and we want to pass along this education resource for school districts.
The primary focus of GHOF is to raise a passionate generation of new ocean ambassadors while also promoting a multitude of exciting STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math), maritime, eco-tourism, fisheries and related jobs and career paths.
GHOF fosters extraordinary public, private partnerships which include the integration and collaboration of leading educational institutions, community leaders and stakeholders. This includes local environmental habitats that provide unique experiences for professional development for teachers as well as exciting “Salty Adventures” for students and families. Complete details on their educational Programs can be found in thisdownloadable PDF.
For more information about how your school district and community can receive support from the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation and collaborate with their Educational Programs and initiatives, contact Patxi Pastor at 305.389.9973 or Patxi@GHOF.Org.
Checking in with the State Board of Education
by FADSS General Counsel Brian Moore
While most of the focus in Tallahassee in recent weeks has been on preparing for all the new laws that will affect the accountability system, classroom instruction, and more, the State Board of Education (SBE) regularly adopts or amends rules that can have just as much of an impact on District operations. Thus, it is often just as important to keep track of the SBE’s activities.
In the past month, Governor DeSantis has named two new SBE members, and the SBE is meeting today (April 29, 2022) to confirm his selection of Senator Manny Diaz, Jr., as the state’s next Commissioner of Education. Senator Diaz will then serve as Commissioner at the next regular SBE meeting, which will be held on May 11, 2022, in Key West. Two rules of importance that will be considered at that meeting are Rule 6A-1.0018 and 6A-6.0531. Rule 6A-1.0018 sets forth numerous school safety requirements, addressing such topics as mobile panic alert systems, threat assessment reporting requirements, student identification cards, and required district bullying and harassment policies. The SBE will adopt its model policy against bullying and harassment which district policies will have to be consistent with.
Rule 6A-6.0531 will address a requirement in the Reading Achievement for Scholastic Excellence (RAISE) Act, that the Department of Education (DOE) develop a tutoring program where eligible high school students can tutor students in grades K-3. The rule will establish the parameters for participation including grade level, GPA, disciplinary, and other specifications. It also requires that the tutoring take place during the school day, on district property “in the presence and under the supervision of instructional personnel who are school district employees,” and only when a parent has given written permission for their child to participate. Districts who wish to take part in this program will need to notify the DOE by July 1st.
You can find out about the SBE’s meetings and which rules are in development or have been proposed for adoption by visiting the SBE’s section of the DOE website. From there, clicking on the “Meetings” link will take you to a list of their upcoming meetings, as well as archived meetings going back to 2015. Clicking the link “Proposed Action Relating to State Board Rules,” which is right below the “Meetings” link, will show you a list of rules, information about any upcoming workshops on those rules, and a link to submit comments to the DOE about the rule language being considered.
Deadline for Space Art Contest for K-5 Students Extended
The deadline for students to participate in Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez’s Florida Space Art Contest has been extended to May 2, 2022! The contest, open to all K-5 students in Florida, encourages students to create an art piece inspired by the theme Florida is the Place for Space: Celebrating Florida’s Contributions to Space Travel and Exploration. This is an exciting opportunity for students to showcase their creativity and artistic talent while highlighting Florida’s iconic space coast, space travel, and exploration.
Ten total winners will be selected, five from the K-2 and 3-5 categories. Each winner selected, and his or her teacher, will win two tickets to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. One grand prize winner from each category (total of two) will have their unique work of art flown to space on a SpaceX mission targeted for the summer of 2022!