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A Grade Above: The 2022 Public High School Report Carde2be8a5b524029c41c84762c9ae82c0c

With the new school year right around the corner, we are taking our annual look at how the area’s public high schools measure up in key areas. Gleaning information from the Florida Department of Education, we were able to gather key data in areas like average SAT scores, graduation rates and senior class sizes. Furthermore, we also had the chance to speak with Dr. Maria Vazquez, the next superintendent for Orange County Public Schools to learn more about her dedication to the educational field and her visions for the future as the district continues to find ways to grow after the pandemic.

Dr. Maria Vazquez has spent her entire career in education making an impact

A dedicated career educator, Dr. Maria Vazquez recognized long ago how valuable the lessons learned in the classroom can be. Born to immigrant parents who fled Cuba in an effort to provide a better life for their family, the importance of education was something that was stressed in her household from a very young age.

“The sacrifices my parents made for my sister and I were the driving force for us to recognize how powerful education can be,” Vazquez says. “They instilled in [us] that education was the most valuable currency that we had and something that no one could take from us.”

That mindset has helped guide Vazquez through her journey through the world of education. After getting her start as an elementary school teacher, she has held numerous positions throughout her more than three decades with Orange County Public Schools (OCPS), including serving as an assistant principal, principal and chief academic officer to name a few. Most recently she served as the district’s deputy superintendent before she was named its newest superintendent in late June.

As the first Hispanic superintendent in OCPS history, Vazquez harkens back to when she first began in school and spoke no English, calling it “an incredibly scary and difficult time.” However, she says the teachers, staff and students “always made me feel comfortable and we very understanding throughout my entire schooling.”

That sense of caring and supportive environment is something that gave Vazquez plenty of motivation. “I am living proof that education can transform your life,” she says.

Now, Vazquez is looking to inspire future generations of students to reach their full potential and because she’s worked so closely for many years with outgoing Superintendent Dr. Barbara Jenkins, who will retire at the end of this calendar year, Vazquez anticipates a smooth transition. During her first 100 days, she plans on taking part in a listening tour to gain insight into ways OCPS can improve their approach.

“I will be reaching out to all stakeholders—that includes employees, parents and community members. I want to hear their perspectives on what is going well in OCPS and what they think are the areas where we could do better,” she says.

Of course, Vazquez has her own ideas, noting specific areas of concern that she hopes to address during her tenure as superintendent.

“First and foremost, we need to make sure our schools are safe places. The most recent shooting has reaffirmed that we have individuals out there that can and have hurt innocent children and staff in school,” she says. “Second, we need to address the learning loss that the children experienced during the pandemic. That is best addressed by having the very best staff and supports in our schools. In order to do that, we have to focus on attracting and retaining the very best teachers. I am very pleased that we reached agreements with both of our labor unions for an unprecedented 6% raise and I am very hopeful that will ratified.”

Another key area that Vazquez looks to address is the aspect of mental health and having increased awareness and capabilities to better serve everyone.

“We have to ensure that we have support and services for our staff and students in the area of mental health. We have been aggressive in our approach to adding personnel and resources,” she says. “Every one of our middle and high schools has been allocated a social worker and we are looking to increase the number of social workers at our elementary schools [as well]. We are also working to increase the number of mental health counselors through the funding we received from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund.

“These supports will help us to provide more of the life skills, social and emotional support that is needed for our staff to be able to do the very best job in delivering and supporting a structure for our children.”

Graduation Rate
HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION RATE %
Colonial Creek High School 99
Cypress Creek High School 99
East River High School 99
Edgewater High School 99
Freedom High School 99
Lake Nona High School 99
Ocoee High School 99
Oviedo High School 99
Timber Creek High School 99
Wekiva High School 99
Winter Park High School 99
Apopka High School 98
Boone High School 98
Dr. Phillips High School 98
Evans High School 98
Hagerty High School 98
Lake Howell High School 98
Oak Ridge High School 98
Olympia High School 98
University High School 98
Windermere High School 98
Lake Mary High School 97
Lyman High School 97
West Orange High School 97
Winter Springs High School 97
Jones High School 95
Lake Brantley High School 95
Celebration High School 94
Seminole High School 91

 

Average SAT Scores
HIGH SCHOOL AVERAGE SAT SCORE
Hagerty High School 1124
Winter Park High School 1071
Timber Creek High School 1062
Oviedo High School 1057
Windermere High School 1039
Lyman High School 1023
Seminole High School 1021
Lake Nona High School 1019
West Orange High School 1019
Lake Mary High School 1017
Winter Springs High School 1009
Boone High School 1008
Lake Brantley High School 1007
Olympia High School 1003
University High School 988
Lake Howell High School 979
Dr. Phillips High School 976
Cypress Creek High School 973
Edgewater High School 969
Freedom High School 961
Celebration High School 959
East River High School 951
Apopka High School 944
Ocoee High School 913
Wekiva High School 886
Colonial High School 865
Oak Ridge High School 857
Evans High School 853
Jones High School 822

 

Senior Class Size
HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR CLASS SIZE
Windermere High School 1,104
Freedom High School 916
Lake Nona High School 858
Timber Creek High School 856
Apopka High School 842
Seminole High School 816
Dr. Phillips High School 815
Winter Park High School 796
Cypress Creek High School 759
Colonial High School 732
Boone High School 702
Olympia High School 692
Celebration High School 678
University High School 635
Lake Mary High School 622
West Orange High School 613
Hagerty High School 575
Lake Brantley High School 564
Evans High School 545
Ocoee High School 543
Oviedo High School 536
Oak Ridge High School 523
Wekiva High School 489
East River High School 459
Winter Springs High School 444
Edgewater High School 430
Lyman High School 427
Lake Howell High School 420
Jones High School 341

 

With the new school year right around the corner, we are taking our annual look at how the area’s public high schools measure up in key areas. Gleaning information from the Florida Department of Education, we were able to gather key data in areas like average SAT scores, graduation rates and senior class sizes. Furthermore, […]Read More

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