For the last 8 years, the Winter Haven Chamber and community has been a constant force in community-led education advocacy. Partnering with the Winter Haven Public Education Partnership (WHPEP) , a non-profit that developed out of a Chamber education task force in 2011, the Chamber has been working closely with School District for the last two years to take a hard look at our Winter Haven community schools. With several schools making the State's "turnaround program" list at that time, it was of the utmost importance that the community step up to support our educators, administrators, parents and most importantly, our students. Through the research process the Chamber and WHPEP assembled a task force of concerned citizens, educators, business leaders, parents and elected officials. After researching many of the possible opportunities for our schools, it was determined that working closely with the district on a solution was in the best interest of our students at this time. While there is still room for improvement, great gains have been made over the last two years under the leadership of Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd and the hard work of our local principals, teachers, parents and students.
On Tuesday, December 11 the School Board approved the hiring of Dr. Steve Warner as the Community Liaison Director for the Winter Haven area public schools. This new position will be tasked with developing a pilot program to determine ways to re-engage the community into our schools to support administrators, teachers and students for the best possible educational outcomes. In his new role Dr. Warner is charged with collaborating with both the community and the schools to align the needed resources to improve our students' education. Dr. Warner will work closely with our principals and area superintendents and liaise with advocacy groups such as the Winter Haven Public Education Partnership, the Chamber and the Concerned Citizens of Polk County to develop the pilot program.
Dr. Warner is a graduate of Webber International University with a Masters of Business Administration and he received his Doctorate in Education in Educational Leadership from Argosy University in Tampa. His most recent role in education was serving as the Vice Provost of Student Affairs at Florida Polytechnic University and prior to that role was the Vice President for Advancement at Webber International University. Dr. Warner has served on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors as well as the Board of Directors of the Winter Haven Public Education Partnership. His wife, Tresa, has been a teacher in the Polk County Public Schools system for many years and runs the iMAG Academy at Lake Region High School.