Dr. Theresa Hodge was the recipient of a resolution this week from the Duval County School Board resolution from District 14 DCSB Member Paula D. Wright and Superintendent Nikolai Vitti.
For those in the community who are familiar with the well known educator, the resolution was long overdue. Hodge has dedicated her life to teaching and educating students throughout Duval county. During her 34 year educational career, she has served as teacher, principal and administrator.
Her tenacity for a career in developing young minds began as a nurse and then she transitioned to the school system. For three years as principal of Eugene Butler Middle school, Dr. Hodge was able to turn the school into an outstanding achievement school. With the help of local pastors, friends and neighbors, young men had access to role models to lead and guide them to their next phase of development. While at Eugene Butler Middle, her visionary leadership evolved into a curriculum to turn the students around academically. Thus, the program was given the name Operation Turn-Around. The program’s goal was to “develop the potential achiever in every student by providing an after-school safe haven that provided academic tutoring, conflict resolution, counseling, parental engagement, mentor and mentoring, sports activities and field trips in order to aid in developing the minds of youth and stimulate the hearts of adults threw participation.” ‘
Dr. Hodges vision was immediately recognized throughout the district. Local educators and politicians were in awe of the program and began to create a way to increase funding resources from local and state agencies to secure grants and support for the program. Operation Turn-Around was introduced to then Governor Lawton Chiles and into Florida State Legislation by former Senator Betty Holzendorf. After review, it was placed in the finance formula for “Statewide Education,” a tag for State School Programs. Operation Turned-Around was also used as a foundation to create what DCPS know now as “Team Up” in the school system. Eventually the program took on a domino effect and Operation Turn-Around began its tenure as the premier afterschool program in Duval County. Participants are now able to forgo student’s economic status and lack of parental engagement, or their neighborhood to define their future.
The services to students by Dr. Hodge has spanned over 45 years and has allowed her to demonstrate her love, commitment and dedication to Duval County students and their families by working tirelessly to build a society in which people of all races and backgrounds have equal rights and opportunities as mirrored in the work of Operation Turn Around. Though she has never received financial compensation for the thousands of lives that have been transformed thanks to her leadership, recognition by the Duval County School Board is a first step in recognition of her selfless contributions.