Manatee Schools Superintendent Rick Mills, who is set to retire July 31, after almost 2 1/2 years as head of the school district on Thursday sent the following to teachers and other staff members:
As my time as Superintendent of the School District of Manatee County comes to a close, I would like to take this opportunity to say a personal thank you to all those people in our schools and community who have supported the efforts and initiatives of the district over the last two years. I firmly believe the hard work of thousands of people across Manatee County has helped construct a solid foundation from which future success can be built.
When I was sworn in as Superintendent on March 20, 2013, I knew there were very serious challenges that lay ahead. Although those challenges turned out to be exponentially larger and more difficult than I imagined, I am proud of the progress we have made together to return the school district to a state of financial stability and academic advancement.
Almost every time we have a school board meeting during the school year, a color guard of JROT cadets from one of our high schools presents the colors for the Pledge of Allegiance. Like others in attendance at those board meetings, I am always impressed by the diligence, focus and commitment demonstrated by those students. In many ways, I believe those students and their instructors are a reflection of the real story of the School District of Manatee County.
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Often lost in the shuffle of politics or personal agendas, we tend to look past the amazing things being accomplished in our schools. Since I have been Superintendent, I have been committed to visiting at least one or two schools each week so I can see for myself the great work taking place.
Some of the accomplishments attained by our students during the last two years include:
-- Southeast High’s TV production Department won the national SkillsUSA title for best “Broadcast News Program” in 2014 and has won the state championship in that category 10-consecutive years.
-- A team of Manatee District Students won the 2014 F-1 In Schools National Championship sponsored by the USA Society of Automotive Engineers for designing and racing a balsa wood car.
-- Manatee Technical College students have won more medals than any other school in the nation at the national SkillsUSA competition for 11-consecutive years.
-- Students from Nolan Middle School ranked first among middle schools and students from Braden River High ranked second among high schools at the 2014 National Technology Student Association Conference.
-- A team of students from Haile and Nolan middle schools won the “Excellence Award” – the highest award given – at the 2015 VEX Worlds IQ Challenge.
-- Two district high school students earned finalist status in the 2015 multi-state “Bright Ideas STEM” competition sponsored by Bright House Networks.
-- Teams of students from the district have won state championships in boys golf (Lakewood Ranch 2013) volleyball (Manatee 2014), girls basketball (Southeast 2014) and cheerleading (Manatee 2015).
The examples cited above represent a mere fraction of the outstanding accomplishments attained by district students and their teachers during the last two years. Each and every day of the school year, highly motivated teachers and students are demonstrating and aspiring to the very best in teaching and learning. I want to thank our students, parents and our entire team of school district employees for all their hard work and dedication.
I would also like to say a special thank you to all of the outstanding citizens who devote their time and enthusiasm to volunteering in our schools, and to the hundreds of business partners across the county who help make the dreams of our students and teachers a reality. The school district depends on your continued support and contributions.
We have accomplished a great deal together and I will continue to follow the progress of the students and employees of the School District of Manatee County with great interest and admiration.
Thank you for allowing me to serve as your Superintendent.
All the Best,
Rick W. Mills