Recognizing her exceptional leadership at a difficult time for education, Polk County School Superintendent Jacqueline M. Byrd was presented the inaugural Circle of Leaders Award from the School of Education at Florida Southern College in a ceremony March 1 on the FSC campus.
The award is part of a new program, the School of Education Circle of Leaders at Florida Southern College, which recognizes and supports leaders who make a positive and consequential impact on education. In addition to the annual award, the Circle of Leaders program will provide professional development opportunities, an informational newsletter about educational strategies and current research and opportunities to connect educational leaders with one another.
In presenting the award, Dr. Tracey Tedder, dean of the FSC School of Education, said teachers and administrators make a difference each day in the lives of students.
“I don’t believe we can ever say thank you enough to those who lead our classrooms and those who lead our schools. However, today is an opportunity to recognize those for the difference they make in the lives of children and thus the future of our world,” she said.
In an inspirational acceptance speech, Mrs. Byrd thanked the college, saying she was excited and deeply honored to be the inaugural recipient of the Circle of Leaders Award. She also thanked her family for understanding “my passion for this 24/7 profession.”
Mrs. Byrd said she had not anticipated that her career would result in being in a position of leadership, noting that she worked as a secretary and a teacher before moving into educational administration.
“This journey has been an honor for me and a privilege I enjoyed immensely,” she said. “Leadership is something that is learned. Leadership is something you are always shaping, learning and reflecting to see ways you could have done things better than before.”
Mrs. Byrd said the two most important qualities for leadership are humility and the ability to listen carefully to others.
“These qualities foster a sense of true potential in those you lead,” she said. “If you are able to listen, you will be able to lead with much more confidence. Once I was understood how people around me react to agreements or disagreements, I then knew how to bring them along.”