by James Coulter
With more than 18 years of experience as a superintendent under his belt, Dr. Wayne Rodolfich hopes to tackle the challenges of heading Lake Wales Charter Schools as its new superintendent. He holds five college degrees and two master degrees. He has served three years as a principal, six years as a teacher and coach, and is a fellow of the National Career Coalition.
Dr. Rodolfich is also a family man with a wife and five children, one adult child in college and four children under age 11. As such, he knows what a school system needs to succeed both as an educator and as a parent. He hopes to raise the bar for LWCS, having already established its new literacy program, Read 20, and he plans to establish and exceed other important educational goals.
We recently sat down with Dr. Rodolfich and asked him about his qualifications and plans for LWCS. Here is what he had to say:
Q: What qualifies you to take on the challenge of supervising Lake Wales Charter Schools?
A: I have experience in moving districts forward. In my former district, we just received an A rating, all 16 of the schools there were As and Bs, and we improved our graduation rate to 90 percent. And with [many] career pathways available to students, the system was named a district of innovation for the state of Mississippi. Everything we did there was built off a plan, and our LWCS team is working on a strategic plan now.
Q: What is your overall goal for LWCS?
A: Our goal is to provide the best possible educational opportunity for the children in our region, and for students and teachers to “Choose Lake Wales” because they know we provide a high-quality education for our students with a wide array of offerings that allow students to find their passion.
Q: What is the biggest challenge facing LWCS?
A: Our biggest challenge is having enough bus drivers to handle our transportation needs. It is an ongoing issue not limited to LWCS but other systems are dealing with that challenge, too. Our second challenge is completing Bok North Academy here in Lake Wales, getting that process finished is very important. It should be ready by January/February, and it will help place children in permanent classrooms. Finally, we are working on building a team concept. There are good things that are going on in the System, and I think there are some things we can enhance through teamwork, which I am looking forward to.
Q: What are your short-term goals for LWCS?
A: We have already focused on literacy. We have a Read 20 concept, where we ask parents to read to their children for 20 minutes a day. We have over 30 business partners who have placed books in their places of business for children to read while they are there. We have additional literacy tutors who will be working at our schools. Those are our short-term goals. From a long-term standpoint, we have to make sure we have adequate space for all of our students to have the best educational experience while they are on our campuses, while also creating the most diverse menu of courses for students.
Q: What are your long-term goals?
A: We would like to upgrade a lot of our facilities so we can provide the best learning environment possible for our students. We also want to diversify learning opportunities within the system so we can meet the needs of every student and their individual interests, and we want to work on teachers’ continuing education, making sure all teachers have the correct endorsements and providing them with quality professional development opportunities.
Q: What potential does Lake Wales have to excel in education?
A: We have limitless potential because we have great teachers and great children here. I think they are very focused, and they are committed to this community. We will be one of the communities in Polk County that really start to see some population growth. The challenge of that will be to have adequate space for people who want to attend schools here in LWCS.
Q: What is the key to the school system’s success?
A: I just think it is very important that parents are engaged in their children’s schools, and that parents help to support us by reading an additional 20 minutes for their children every day and always communicate with the schools about what they can do better. As I stated, we are in a strategic planning process, and we want plenty of parent feedback and community feedback on what people would like to see in their schools. This is a plan being written for the future of their schools.