Our Mission: To ensure that each student achieves his/her highest personal potential
Our Vision: To be a world-class school system

Superintendent

Dr. Graham

Nancy J. Graham, Ed.D
Superintendent of Schools
Lee County Public Education Center
2855 Colonial Blvd.
Fort Myers, FL 33966

Phone: (239) 337-8301

Office Fax: (239) 337-8378

Nancy J. Graham, Ed.D

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At the end of each School Board meeting, I have the opportunity to make comments about the meeting and/or about other current issues facing our school district. Though there was never a conscious plan to do so, I have come to conclude my comments at each meeting by stating that it is a privilege to lead your school district. And, even though the challenges we face can be daunting, yes, I mean it when I say it is a privilege, and here’s why.

With 120 schools serving nearly 88,000 students, Lee County is home to one of the largest school districts in the United States. Within that number is an amazing variety of schools: pre-kindergarten to adult vocational and technical schools; comprehensive high schools preparing students for more than 40 career paths; and magnet and attractor schools with specialties such as International Baccalaureate, Cambridge AICE, or fine and performing arts. We send teachers anywhere that students need them, including in hospitals or in jails. We have virtual schools and charter schools and alternative schools and home schools. All of these are available to students and parents through a high-option student assignment system in which 95% of families get one of their top three choices on their first try.

All of this is accomplished within the District’s $1.3 billion annual budget including almost $900 million in operating costs. Just as the District is a careful shepherd of the students entrusted to us, we are conscientious stewards of the public funds – over half of them from local sources -- provided to care for those students. As the second largest employer in the county, the School District directly employs almost 11,000 local citizens helping to provide a sturdy economic base for our community. Most of the District’s budget is spent right here at home, reinvesting in our local businesses to keep them healthy and growing. We welcome career-changers, and provide valuable on-the-job training to all kinds of workers -- from teens to senior citizens -- to strengthen our local labor market.

And, many may be unaware that most of the employees hired by our local business are Lee County graduates. This is why our business leaders have been strong supporters and counselors to the School District of Lee County since it was created in 1887. In fact, Lee County’s separation from Monroe County that year came about because local business leaders demanded better local support for our schools. What a time that might have been to lead!

For each of the 127 years since, the School District has worked to provide a substantial and lasting return on that investment by committing that every school staff provide a high-quality education and meaningful preparation for success in life. And we make this commitment in spite of only having the children 14% of the time! Our schools offer opportunities for teamwork through championship athletic programs and teach appreciation for art and culture through a dazzling array of concerts, plays, dance recitals, and fine arts displays, all of which are regularly attended by our residents and visitors. The Lee County Public Education Center actually features a collection of student artwork that covers nearly a mile of wall space—one the largest collections in the country of fine art by school age children.

Yes, it is a privilege to acknowledge that “all means all” even though children are far from being all the same. They come to us without having the same advantages. Some children show up for kindergarten ready to read, while some others arrive without even knowing their last names. Some children come from affluent families, while many —almost three out of four -- of our children are eligible for a free or reduced-price school lunch. Many children in our schools come from families who speak no English at home. And there are those children who have any number of intellectual and/or physical disabilities that make learning an even greater challenge for them. Even so, our schools offer a rigorous and engaging curriculum that holds every student and every teacher to high academic standards. We want every learner, child or adult, to realize his/her highest potential. Why would anyone argue with that?

With students coming from more than 150 countries and representing over 120 languages, the children of our community find acceptance in our schools where there is respect for cultural differences and celebration of diversity. The school house has become that last institution where children can learn and grow in a caring environment; where mistakes can be recognized and ultimately corrected; where every day can be a chance for a fresh start; and where student success is supported and celebrated by adults.

Thank you for your continued support and involvement in the School District of Lee County.

Sincerely,
Nancy J. Graham, Ed.D
Nancy J. Graham, Ed.D
Superintendent of Schools

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