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Press Release for Friday, August 5, 2016

Ed White Military Academy of Leadership Launches Community School Strategy

Joanna Norris, Director                                              Laureen Ricks, Supervisor               

UNF Department of Public Relations                         DCPS Media Relations     

(904) 620-2102                                                           (904) 390-2211     


Heather Morgan, Communications Director                Mia Jones, CEO              

Children’s Home Society of Florida                             Agape Community Health Network

(321) 397-0054                                                            (904) 703-0165          




 Effective with the 2016-17 school year, Edward White Military Academy of Leadership will become both a community school and a military leadership academy—the only one of its kind in Florida.

As the first in Jacksonville to adopt the community school model, Edward White will collaborate with core partners Children’s Home Society of Florida, the University of North Florida and Agape to offer services to prepare students and their families for lifelong success.

Under this model, Edward White will become the “hub” of the community, offering an array of services to address the most pressing needs of students and their families, as identified based upon a community needs assessment.

As the sole higher education partner in the community school, UNF will conduct the assessment; the results—expected over the next few months—will guide the development of necessary programs to further support student success.

“The community school model has worked successfully in other parts of the state and nation, and we look forward to making a positive impact on the education of students at Ed White,” said Dr. Pam Chally, dean of the UNF Brooks College of Health. “Our goal is to provide more opportunities for young people. It always should be about more chances for young people to be successful.”

Florida’s flagship community school, located at Maynard Evans High School in Orlando, has experienced nearly a 20 percent increase in graduation rates since the model was implemented five years ago. Also a core partner at Evans, Children’s Home Society of Florida brings significant experience working within the model and will be the nonprofit provider delivering social services, including counseling, at the school.

“We know the students at Ed White battle barriers to education every day, from poverty and homelessness to violence, substance abuse and more. It’s impossible to expect a student suffering from the trauma of domestic violence and hunger to focus completely on academics,” said Kymberly Cook, executive director at CHS. “Through the community school model, we’ll be able to address these challenges head on so students can concentrate in class and prepare for successful futures.”

Additionally, Agape will provide health care services to students; specific services will be determined based upon the results of the needs assessment.

“Our participation in the community school is consistent with our organization’s core mission of providing high-quality health care to the citizens of Jacksonville. We will gladly participate in the community school by sharing our expertise in health outreach and prevention efforts,” said Mia Jones, CEO of Agape.

Along with implementing the community school model in the upcoming year, Edward White will also begin its transition into a leadership academy, launching with the incoming freshmen. As Duval County’s first high school to develop curriculum and culture based upon military values, Edward White aims to prepare future leaders for success after high school.

“The community school initiative is a tremendous opportunity to strengthen impact on the students and families at Ed White High School in a way that focuses on developing the whole child,” said Dr. Nikolai Vitti, Superintendent of Duval County Public Schools. “Aligned with the kickoff of Ed White’s new Military Leadership Magnet, I am thrilled our students will benefit from expanded health and wellness related services as we continue to focus on greater programming on the Westside to overcome obstacles that prevent students from reaching their potential.”

The 2016-17 school year will also bring expanded coursework within the International Baccalaureate program to the school as well as the opportunity for students to participate in dual enrollment at Florida State College Jacksonville and/or Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.

Duval County Public Schools is the 20th largest school district in the nation, educating more than 128,000 students in over 190 schools. Its mission is to provide educational excellence for every school, in every classroom, for every student, every day. Visit to learn more.

On the front lines since 1902, Children’s Home Society of Florida is the oldest and largest statewide organization devoted to helping children and families. CHS delivers solutions that break cycles of abuse, help children heal from trauma, guide teens to successful transitions into adulthood and create strong families through adoption. CHS serves approximately 50,000 children and family members each year. More at

AGAPE Community Health Center, Inc. is a Federally Qualified Health Center which provides primary healthcare services to individuals and families in Duval County and the surrounding areas. As an FQHC, AGAPE Community Health Center, Inc. has expanded access to care for the medically needy, under insured and working poor citizens of our area regardless of their ability to pay for services.
UNF, a nationally ranked university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures through a well-rounded education.