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Florida TaxWatch Announces Dunnellon Middle School Immediate Past Principal Delbert Smallridge as a 2021-22 Principal Leadership Awards Winner

Dunnellon, Fla. – Today, Fri., March 25, Florida TaxWatch (FTW) will proudly announce that Delbert Smallridge, immediate past principal of Dunnellon Middle School in Marion County, is among the nine winners of the Florida TaxWatch 2021-22 Principal Leadership Awards (PLA). Through the program, Smallridge – who is now retired – has also identified one deserving student to receive a full two-year Florida College Scholarship. 

The award and scholarship will be presented to Smallridge and the student at a ceremony on the Dunnellon Middle School campus at 2 p.m. today. Local media are invited to attend and asked to contact Aly Coleman via email at aly@on3pr.com or by phone at 850.391.5040.

Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic M. Calabro said, “The principals Florida TaxWatch is honoring with this one-of-a-kind award are some of the most dedicated and deserving educators in Florida. We commend them for their transformational leadership and the success they have achieved on behalf of their students. Thousands of young people have and will continue to benefit directly from this work, striving to improve their circumstances and reach their full potential, which will ultimately allow them to make significant contributions to their communities and the state as a whole.”

Florida Prepaid College Foundation Director Cindy O’Connell said, “Every day, the work of these dedicated principals dictate which opportunities for success will be available to our children and how their educational experience will mold them into a future leader and productive member of our society. The Florida Prepaid College Foundation is proud to support the Principal Leadership Awards with the Foundation’s Academic A+ Challenge Match Scholarship Program. We look forward to helping these nine students realize their potential, and we thank Florida TaxWatch for its commitment to highlighting the good works of these public servants and unyielding dedication to education in Florida.”

Florida Lottery Secretary John F. Davis said, “The Florida Lottery is proud to partner with Florida TaxWatch in support of the Principal Leadership Awards and commends each of the award recipients for their outstanding dedication and commitment to students and schools; these diligent efforts are making a difference each and every day. At the Lottery, we believe that the path to a brighter future begins with a good education, and that a good education starts with exceptional educators. We look forward to continuing this partnership to support these efforts on behalf of all of Florida’s students and schools.”

About the Principal Leadership Awards Program

Established by Florida TaxWatch (FTW) in 2013, the Principal Leadership Awards (PLA) program serves to acknowledge and reward educational leaders who are creating meaningful change in their students’ lives, while also promoting their uniquely effective practices among their peers. This program, which is the only one of its kind nationwide, recognizes nine of Florida’s most successful principals from high-risk K-12 public schools across the state (three principals each from elementary, middle, and high schools, including traditional and charter public schools). Principals are selected based on weighted Department of Education data, not through nominations.
Additionally, FTW is partnering with the Florida Prepaid College Foundation and private corporate sponsors to provide one student from each winner’s school with a two-year Florida College Plan Scholarship. The winning students are selected by their principal and must meet several criteria that would traditionally make attending college, let alone paying for it, a significant challenge. Through these scholarships, this transformational program is able to change deserving students’ lives and help close the achievement gap. 

The PLA program is supported by generous sponsors, including: The Florida Lottery, JM Rubin Foundation, Florida Prepaid, Bright Star Credit Union, FP&L, Helios, FBMC, Florida Trend, Florida Press Association, Charter Communications, Dominic and Debbie Calabro, and Steve and Linda Evans.

For more information, including a full list of the 2021-22 PLA winners, click here.

About Florida TaxWatch
As an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit government watchdog and taxpayer research institute for more than forty years and the trusted eyes and ears of Florida taxpayers, Florida TaxWatch (FTW) works to improve the productivity and accountability of Florida government. Its research recommends productivity enhancements and explains the statewide impact of fiscal and economic policies and practices on citizens and businesses. FTW is supported by its membership via voluntary, tax-deductible donations and private grants and does not accept government funding. Donations provide a solid, lasting foundation that has enabled FTW to bring about a more effective, responsive government that is more accountable to, and productive for, the citizens it serves since 1979. For more information, please visit www.floridataxwatch.org

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