Education is an important pillar for society. The mix of cultures, the variety of languages and the diversity among our students; They have made this country a cultural melting pot. Two of Polk County's most prominent leaders are Dr. Ángela García Falconetti, President of Polk State College, and Superintendent of Public Schools (K-12), Mr. Frederick Heid, both with a rich HISPANIC heritage running through them. the veins, who take county education to the highest seat in the system.
Ángela G. Falconetti, of Cuban parents, was born in Florida and Frederick Heid, of a Colombian mother and a father of German origin, was born in Ohio and raised in Miami. Both share an immense pride in their cultures. As children of immigrants, they experienced firsthand the transformative power of education in the United States and have dedicated their careers to offering others the same opportunity.
Dr. Falconetti has led the university through exponential growth since 2017, including a growing Hispanic enrollment that has earned her the national designation of a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI).
In April 2021, Superintendent Frederick Heid took the reins of public education in Polk County and has as one of his goals that Hispanic students are not divorced from their folklore, offering more cultural support and bilingual programs. “Right now, at 38.4% of enrollment, Hispanics make up the largest demographic in the school system. Although most of them understand and speak Spanish, over time they lose their fluency and don't read or write it proficiently,” said Heid. “It is important that they maintain their bilingual ability as it makes them more competitive in the job market.”
Frederick Heid proposes that students of Hispanic descent, although they are part of the Anglo-Saxon community and society, always maintain respect and admiration for Latin customs and traditions. He also expresses the importance of students and their parents being involved in their career development, expressing their academic needs to representatives of the system and taking advantage of the opportunities offered by the School District.
An example of these opportunities is dual enrollment. Polk State College and the Polk County School District annually provide dual enrollment to approximately 2,000 high school students. Through this program, students with good academic performance have the opportunity to access accelerated learning, that is, they graduate from high school, having completed two years of free university. Furthermore, through the ELITE program, those who choose to study teaching at said university are guaranteed a teaching position with the School District. There is also a variety of programs and courses for adults who wish to continue their studies, improve their English, obtain certifications or validate foreign degrees.
“There are opportunities for everyone, whether you are just starting out or starting over, we remain dedicated to working with our education leaders and industry partners to aggressively educate and train our future community leaders. The future of Polk County is bright under the leadership of Superintendent Frederick Heid”… said Dr. Ángela García Falconetti.
These two prestigious Hispanic leaders have an open door policy. They are there to help us, they not only speak our language, they are also part of our culture. Do not hesitate to contact them to express your ideas and/or concerns.