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Pinellas School Board selects Kevin Hendrick as new superintendent

Mark Parker

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Kevin Hendrick will succeed Mike Grego as Pinellas County Schools superintendent. Photo: PCS Facebook.

The Pinellas County School Board chose a known commodity to serve as its next superintendent Tuesday morning – Chief Academic Officer Kevin Hendrick.

The board unanimously approved Hendrick to replace Dr. Michael Grego following a national search by the Florida School Boards Association that resulted in 19 applicants. Grego led Pinellas County Schools (PCS) for the last decade and is set to retire on July 1. After entering the room to a large round of applause, Hendrick called the moment surreal.

“I am so excited to be doing this – and to be doing this here in Pinellas County,” said Hendrick. “It is a true pleasure and something that is really a lifelong dream.”

Hendrick, 46, has spent most of his life and career in Pinellas County. A graduate of Largo High School, the long-time educator holds two master’s degrees. He has served as a math and social studies teacher, assistant principal, athletic coordinator and director of high school education for PCS.

Hendrick intermittently served as the principal of Northeast High between 2008 and 2017, a period that saw the school raise its grade from a “D” to as high as an “A.” In 2017 he was selected as a state finalist for Principal of the Year.

Board Member Laura Hine said that the search for a new superintendent left her more excited and optimistic for the future of public education in Pinellas.

Hendrick emerged from a field of three finalists, all with extensive educational experience in Florida. Michael Ramirez is currently the deputy superintendent of schools in Denver, Colorado, but spent much of his career in Broward County. Dr. Ann Hembrook, the only finalist with a doctoral degree, is the area superintendent for Marion County Public Schools.

While many in the community expressed their desire for the next superintendent to hold a Ph.D., experience in Pinellas County, maintaining a positive culture and a commitment to inclusivity and diversity were also sought-after qualifications that board members felt Hendrick embodies.

“I valued his enumeration that climate and culture lead everything else,” said Hine of Hendrick. “And for Pinellas to become an “A” district, that’s a place we need to be looking now.”

Hine appreciated Hendrick’s belief that leaders set the tone for an organization’s climate and culture and that accountability starts from the top. Hendrick said that handling an employee that is failing to perform takes character, conviction and compassion and that you should praise in public and correct in private.

Hine also commended Hendrick’s story of turning around Northeast High, not by himself but through leadership and teamwork.

“A key for me was hearing him immediately, personally and knowingly speak about valuing and supporting our teachers.”

Board Member Caprice Edmonds said that during her private interview with Hendrick, she realized he is an independent thinker who plans to lead collaboratively, something she feels is “extremely important.” Edmonds relayed that Hendrick plans on being more open and inclusive with board members and believes he will value their input.

Edmonds added that another thing that stood out to her was Hendrick’s comments regarding “equity and excellence for all” and how she believes he will handle public criticism relating to equity.

“I think we need a strong leader who is going to stand firm on the values we have,” said Edmonds. “And I saw that in him.”

Hendrick thanked the school board for their trust and belief in him and his vision for education in Pinellas County. He called the process laborious but said it showed the “true person” behind the candidates.

Hendrick also credited Grego, calling his leadership in the district “nothing short of remarkable.” He noted the county’s record-setting graduation rates, increase in advanced placements of students and all the other accolades were made possible by Grego’s daily commitment to excellence.

“And to do so with such consistency and fervor every single day, and the stability you brought to this district is amazing,” said Hendrick. “And I hope I can do the same.

“I look forward to supporting our vision and our mission and preparing every student for college, career and life. Thank you so much.”

 

 

 

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    John Donovan

    May 17, 2022at3:13 pm

    We sent two children thru NE High and had a very favorable opinion of Mr Hendrick.

  2. Avatar

    Maria Scruggs

    May 17, 2022at4:13 pm

    Congratulations to Kevin! I have had the pleasure of working along side Kevin since 2018. While we don’t always agree, we are always able to come back to the table. That is a character in leadership that is missing today. Too many leaders are offended and take it personally when others don’t agree with them. The competency at play is emotional intelligence and self awareness. I have witnessed those two characteristics of Kevin first hand. I look forward to his leadership!

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