CHIPLEY - Those who know Panhandle Area Educational Consortium (PAEC) Director of Technology Rick Everitt would likely say he has made an impact on education in both his community and state - but would prefer the focus be on what remains to be done, rather than his own achievements.
However, as Everitt prepares to retire after 31 years of service, the Florida Association of Partners in Education (FAPE) presented him with the Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his decades-long effort to improve education statewide.
FAPE President Liz Stark and Past President Linda Morris presented the award in Panama City recently.
"So many people don't realize just what (Everitt) has done for education over the years on both state and local levels," said Morris. "He was a behind the scenes kind of guy, but he got things done. He's been a man who has been in the profession for the sole purpose of helping people and helping kids. That's what drove his actions, and that is so indicative of how he worked. He didn't want any accolades for himself."
"He's never been boastful, nor sought credit or honor for himself," she continued. "His personal demeanor has always represented his inner values. He's honest, genuine, and a man of his word. On behalf of all who have crossed his path and for those who will reap the influence of his footprint, it was my distinct honor to have presented him with the Lifetime Achievement Award."
Pam Lastowski, also of FAPE, agrees.
"He's worked diligently over the years on major issues, such as improving education for our children,
even though that's not his primary responsibility at PAEC," said Lastowski. "He's stayed involved in that mission and has also been very involved in getting money and grants from the legislation for school volunteer programs statewide business and citizen partnerships to improve teaching and learning. He's been so involved in these efforts and has made such an impact on a statewide level."
Everitt joined the Florida school volunteer effort in 1983 as Washington County District School Volunteer and Senior Mentors for Creative Students Coordinator. He has the longest tenure on record ever on the Florida Commissioner of Education's Community Involvement Council, appointed by Commissioners of Education Ralph Turlington, Betty Castor, Frank Brogan, Tom Gallagher and Charlie Crist.
Everitt has long advocated legislative funding for Florida's district school volunteer programs. In 1990, he was working as a volunteer advocate for the statewide school volunteer program. When word came from Tallahassee to a FAPE Conference that money was no longer in the legislative budget for the program, he organized a postcard campaign, addressed to the head of the education appropriations committee, within just hours. That legislator appeared at conference two days later to announce continued funding.
In 2007, Everitt was a leader in the successful advocacy for appropriations to provide training resources for district school volunteer programs. He is one of the original pioneers who developed the Neighbors Involved in Kids Education (NIKE) Program, a precursor to after school programs. He was also an innovator of the Migrant Education Senior Mentors Program. Additionally, he volunteered time and resources to develop on-line training for new school volunteer coordinators and Five Star Award Training accessible through the Florida Education Channel. Everitt will retire from his current position as PAEC Coordinator of Technology Aug. 31.
PAEC's Lisa Schofield will take over much of his responsibilities.
Patrick L. McDaniel is the Executive Director at PAEC, which is Florida's oldest regional education service organization. McDaniel says Everitt's absence will not go unnoticed.
“Rick is a visionary," said McDaniel. "He has the unique ability to see and understand what the next big thing is going to be. An example is the Florida Education Channel, which he envisioned, created, and then implemented as a way to deliver professional learning to teachers, not only in the school districts we represent, but across the state of Florida, first on Dish Network, and now, over the internet. His level of energy, enthusiasm, insight, perseverance, and dedication will be sorely missed."