Education thinker, stakeholder, and community leader

Billy’s record as an education thinker, stakeholder, and community leader

* Co-founded Citizens for Better Educational Leadership (CBEL) with Wendy Bradshaw. CBEL successfully led the effort to remove previous Superintendent Kathryn LeRoy and change the direction of the district. It has worked aggressively to simplify and reduce the Polk testing burden in all its forms.

* Served as The Ledger’s Education editor from 2003-2006. Directed coverage of the creation of the Lake Wales Charter District. Won a New York Times Company award for a special section commemorating the career of legendary Lakeland High School English teacher Hazel Haley.

* Published dozens of essays since 2008 exploring difficult education issues — particularly assessment, segregation, the relationship between magnet/charter and traditional schools, and the classroom experience.

* Together, Billy’s three children have attended: Lime Street Elementary (now Phillip O’Brien); Rochelle School of the Arts; McKeel Academy; Crystal Lake Middle School; Harrison School for the Arts; Lakeland Montessori Schoolhouse and Montessori Middle School ; Lakeland High School; and even homeschooling. As a parent, Billy can talk with firsthand knowledge about virtually every type of Polk school experience.

* Served as chair of the Downtown Lakeland Kiwanis high school scholarship committee for multiple years.

* Coached more than a dozen youth sports teams.

* Wrote Age of Barbarity: the Forgotten Fight for the Soul of Florida, about the fight for racial and moral justice in 1920s Florida. Won the Florida Historical Society’s Presidential Citation and the “Award of Courage” from the Putnam County African-American Cultural Arts Council.