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Success Stories

Retiring Polk Superintendent Helped Move the School District Forward

When Jacqueline Byrd became superintendent of Polk County schools in February 2016, her goal was to unite the county around educational excellence and ensure every student, teacher and administrator was committed to the long-term vision. As she prepares for her last day in the office on June 18, Byrd reflects on how far the district […]

Pharmacy Academy Prepares Students to Pursue Sonography at Polk State College 

Senaida Avalos, a freshman at Polk State College, is grateful the Polk County School District develops new programs that keep up with current market demands, such as the Pharmacy Technician Academy at Fort Meade Middle-Senior High School. “I think that one of the things that the school system did well was create programs, such as […]

Focus on Math Leads SEU Graduate to Career as an Actuary

For Brittany Tillman, her path to math all started at Lincoln Avenue Academy and Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in Lakeland, both magnet schools that focus on science, technology, engineering and math. “They provided me with early exposure to STEM topics as well as continuing to foster my interest in the math and sciences as I […]

Florida Poly Professor Hopes to Prevent App Collusion

A researcher at Florida Polytechnic University is working on the cutting edge of Android technology as he and a group of peers try to stymie criminals before they create a new kind of malware. Karim Elish, an assistant professor of Computer Science, started working on Android security when attending Virginia Tech for his Doctorate, which […]

Vision for Central Florida Innovation District Previewed at Event

The Central Florida Development Council hosted an informational preview event on Monday to continue the process of outlining a vision for the Central Florida Innovation District (CFID) and seek feedback. Community leaders, CFDC investors, area landowners and the public were invited to the meeting at Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland. The goal of the meeting […]

Polk Graduate Focusing on Future in STEM at Southeastern University

Despite the language barrier, a new school and an unfamiliar culture one Polk graduate is now excelling at a Polk institution of higher learning hoping to pursue a career in medicine. Jessica Echevarria moved to the United States from Cuba when she was seven, knowing only how to say “Yes,” “No” and a few other […]

Polk Graduate has Sights Set on Developing New Technology

Local Jenkins High School Graduate Pursues Love for STEM at Florida Polytechnic University. At age 19, Elise Araiza already knows she wants to be a mechanical engineer. The Florida Polytechnic University student is majoring in that, with a concentration in nanotechnology, cementing her love for science and math that developed at George Jenkins High School […]

Small Business Award Named After First Leader of Economic Development in Polk County

One man was so well-respected, so instrumental, so admired when the county began emulating the state Department of Commerce’s initiatives nearly 35 years ago that the Central Florida Development Council has named its small-business award in his honor. Addressing Jim Brantley, the first director of the agency that has since been renamed the Central Florida […]

The Lunz Group Representing Polk on GrowFL’s Companies to Watch List

The Lunz Group is an honoree in GrowFL’s 50 Florida Companies to Watch, a recognition that highlights the full-service architectural firm’s growth in the past few years. It is the only Polk County business to be recognized. The Lunz Group is an architectural firm in Lakeland that specializes in working with clients to design projects […]

Retired General and Annual Meeting Keynote Speaker Talks About Flying, Stem and Life

Retired United States Air Force General Lori Robinson thinks it’s important that parents pay attention to their children and where their natural tendencies lie, especially if those might be in a STEM-related field. Speaking anecdotally, the guest speaker at the Central Florida Development Council’s October 16th Annual Meeting said she hears about students who come […]