Effective organizations, and their leaders, are self-analytical, constantly identifying weaknesses and areas in performance that can be improved. Human biases naturally limit this process, but many of these limitations are removed when a new leader takes the reins.
Susan Sullivan is now the new principal at Plant City High School. She, along with PCHS PTSA President Yvonne Fry, will take a fresh look at PCHS and identify strengths and opportunities for growth.
Having served as principal of two major PCHS feeder schools, Tomlin and Marshall Middle schools, Sullivan is experienced in leading teachers and students in gaining community support to address school needs not funded through regular budgets, or personally by teachers and students. These needs are common to Tomlin, Marshall, and PCHS, over half of whose students qualify for free or reduced lunches or are identified as Title I schools.
At Tomlin, Sullivan formed strong partnerships with Plant City businesses and community organizations in the development of the Tomlin Gold Card program. Valued at over $30,000 per year, this program not only allowed Tomlin to address needs not funded in the school’s regular budget but supported local businesses as part of the Plant City Chamber’s Buy Local initiative.
Florida Strawberry Festival parking was another effective program built by Sullivan at Tomlin. Student members of various Tomlin clubs managed the festival parking lots and collected parking fees for the service. The money raised directly funded over 50 student clubs without money passing through any administrative budgets.
At PCHS Sullivan and Fry see many possibilities to duplicate Sullivan’s track record of partnering with community businesses and civic clubs to address needs.
One PCHS area of strength has been the school’s exemplary program of awarding college scholarships to many of its graduates each year. At its core, however, this strength contains a continuing challenge: every year, donors to fund those scholarships must be retained or new donors must be found. Partnering with local businesses and civic clubs will facilitate that annual fundraising process.
Another PCHS need is to provide seed money for the school’s many active student clubs for new and ongoing service projects. It takes money to make more money to serve the community and the school.
Service learning is a growing part of the high school curriculum, in which students are given opportunities through mentorships, on-the-job training, and job shadowing in businesses and other community organizations to apply theory learned in the classroom to real-life situations. While not an expensive program, service learning is normally not funded in regular school budgets.
Another mode of off-campus learning for students, and also for faculty and administrators, is attendance at regional and national conferences. This is another need that is not met by regular school budgets. Businesses and civic organizations can help with sponsorships.
When Sullivan and Fry call on your business or civic club, please consider partnering with PCHS. All of Plant City will benefit.