Jacqueline M. Byrd began her career in education over 30 years ago in Jacksonville, Fla.
An instructional leader with a passion for students, she has served as a teacher, assistant principal, principal and district administrator. In 2005, she was recognized by the Council for Educational Change with the state’s Leonard Miller Principal Leadership Award, for raising student achievement at one of Duval County’s most challenged elementary schools through innovative ideas, professional development and community involvement. By having a strategic focus on student outcomes, the school’s overall academic performance rose from a state grade of D to an A within three years. This led Mrs. Byrd to be promoted to key positions within the district, including overseeing elementary schools deemed as turnaround schools in Duval County. Prior to her relocating to Polk County, she served as chief of schools for Duval County.
Mrs. Byrd relocated to Polk County in June 2013 as deputy superintendent of schools. On Feb. 23, 2016, she was sworn in as superintendent of Polk County Public Schools.
Since her appointment as superintendent, the Polk County School Board and administration have successfully implemented a strategic plan to raise academic achievement, which has led to:
• A decrease in low-performing schools.
• An increase in the graduation rate from 69.4 percent to 81.2 percent.
• A decrease in the dropout rate from 9 percent to 7.8 percent.
• An increase in graduation rate among students with disabilities from 42.3 percent to 65.9 percent.
• An increase in the district grade from C to B in 2017-18. The district maintained a B in 2019-20.
Never one to make excuses, Mrs. Byrd has worked to create local solutions to problems facing school districts nationwide. For instance, in response to the issue of arming teachers, she implemented the School Safety Guardian Program. In response to an ongoing teacher shortage, she created the ELITE (Establishing Leaders in Teacher Education) teacher education program. Theses are just two examples of the innovative ideas Mrs. Byrd has forged with community leaders.
Mrs. Byrd is deeply engaged and connected in the community. She serves on numerous boards and committees both at the local and state level.
Mrs. Byrd is married to Jason, and they have two wonderful children.